In a game that took over four hours and 12 innings to complete, the Red Sox ended their seven-game road trip at 5-2 following a tight 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night.
Making his eighth start of the season for Boston was Chris Sale, who entered Wednesday having surrendered just four earned runs in his last three outings.
Tossing eight full innings in this one, the left-hander put together without a doubt his most dominant performance of the year thus far, yielding only one Orioles run on three hits, two HBPs, and no walks to go along with a season-high 14 strikeouts on the night.
Retiring 17 of the first 19 hitters he faced, Sale had a no-hitter going with one out to get in the sixth before Joey Rickard broke that up with a single to center field.
Perhaps a bit miffed about his no-no going by the wayside, Sale allowed the next hitter he faced to reach as well, with Trey Mancini driving in his team’s lone run on an RBI double to left field.
In typical Chris Sale fashion though, the southpaw continued to amaze in the seventh, striking out the side on nine straight strikes to notch the fifth immaculate inning in Red Sox history.
Ending his night by picking up an additional two punchouts in the eighth, Sale finished with a final pitch count of 108 (80 strikes).
Out of those 108 pitches, the 30-year-old hurler relied mostly on his slider Wednesday, turning to the pitch 46 times and inducing eight swings and misses with it.
He also induced 14 swings and misses and topped out at 96.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 42 times.
Unable to pick up the winning decision with this game going 12 innings deep and all, the Red Sox will look for their third straight win with Sale on the mound in the lefty’s next time out, which should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.
In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen, like Sale, collectively turned in one of their better outings of the season to this point, with Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, and Heath Hembree combining to toss four frames of scoreless baseball.
Entering the ninth in a tie game, Barnes worked his way around a tight situation where the potential winning run was 90 feet away from scoring by getting Dwight Smith Jr. to ground out to himself and by striking out Stevie Wilkerson on five pitches to end the threat.
Workman, meanwhile, put together his 10th consecutive scoreless appearance by sitting down the Orioles in 1-2-3 fashion in the 10th before things got interesting in the 11th.
With one out and Ryan Brasier on the mound, Trey Mancini nearly put an end to this one by launching a 401 foot fly ball to left center that would have landed over the fence. The only problem was that the ball was in the range of Jackie Bradley Jr., who scaled said fence and made the catch of the season so far to rob the Orioles slugger of walk-off glory.
And in the 12th, after Andrew Benintendi had put Boston ahead in the top half of the inning, Heath Hembree came on and recorded the first save of his big league career by striking out the side in the bottom half to secure the one-run win.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Andrew Cashner for the Orioles and they were limited in what they could do offensively.
Their only two runs of the night came on two separate swings of the bat from the top two guys in that lineup in Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts.
First, Betts put the Sox on the board in the third inning with a two out, 400 foot bomb of a solo shot off Cashner, good for the reigning AL MVP’s seventh of the season.
They did have additional chances to tack on some more runs, that much was indicated by an 0-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position as well leaving 10 men on base, but they fell short of that against Cashner and company up until the 12th inning.
There, with two outs and the bases empty, Benintendi got ahead in the count at 2-1 against O’s reliever Yefry Ramirez and unloaded on a 93 MPH fastball, sending it to the first few rows of seats in right field for his fourth dinger of the year.
That would give the Red Sox the 2-1 lead they so desperately needed, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
For the first time since March 29th, the Red Sox are back at .500 with a record of 19-19. They have won their last three series and are 6-2 in May.
From Red Sox Notes:
According to Statcast, that Trey Mancini would be home run that was robbed by Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 73% chance of being a hit.
The Orioles struck out 22 times on Wednesday and did not draw a single walk.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Thursday where some of the team will be heading to the White House while others will be heading back to Boston before opening up a three-game weekend series against the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
The M’s took three out of four against the Sox to begin the 2019 season back in March and currently stand at 20-19.
For the series opener, it will be a pitching matchup featuring right-hander Erik Swanson for Seattle and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston.
Rodriguez (3-2, 5.40 ERA) got shellacked for six runs in a losing effort against the Mariners in his first start of the season back on March 30th.
Swanson, meanwhile, has yet to face the Red Sox in what is his first year in the majors.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to begin an eight-game homestand on a high note.