After mashing six home runs to the tune of a 13-2 victory on Friday, the Red Sox had a bit more difficult time with the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, but still came away with their fourth consecutive victory, topping their divisional foes by a final score of 7-2 to improve to 38-34 on the season.
Making his 15th start of the year for Boston in the middle game of this three-game weekend series was Chris Sale, who already dominated the O’s in his last appearance at Camden Yards back in May.
There was no immaculate inning this time around, but the left-hander still put together a solid effort, yielding two runs, both of which were earned, on six hits and just one walk to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts over six quality frames of work.
Baltimore threatened immediately by reaching base in their first two-at bats of the contest in the first, and it looked like the Red Sox were yet again going to be trailing early on.
Sale did not waiver though, as he retired the side in order from there before sitting down 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced up until the sixth inning.
There, in what was undoubtedly the Florida native’s toughest go of it after his team had just put up three runs, the Orioles started things exactly like they did in the first, with both Hanser Alberto and Trey Mancini reaching on back-to-back singles.
One mound visit and line out later, the O’s finally got on the board thanks to an RBI double from Renato Nunez to plate Alberto and advance Mancini to third.
Sale’s lone walk in this one filled the bases for Jonathan Villar, who cut the Red Sox’ deficit to one with a sacrifice fly to score Mancini.
Fortunately for Boston, that was all the damage Sale would allow, as he escaped the jam by fanning Keon Broxton with an 83 MPH slider to end the sixth as well as his outing.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 103 (68 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to that aforementioned slider more than 47% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 10 swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 34 times and got six whiffs on with Sandy Leon behind the plate.
Later improving to 3-7 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.49, Sale will look to build on what has been a strong month of June in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.
In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden entered the seventh in a two-run game, and he worked his way around a one-out single in an otherwise clean frame.
Matt Barnes, meanwhile, had a tougher time in the eighth, as he allowed the tying run to get into scoring position with two outs on a single and walk before retiring the side by striking out pinch-hitter Chris Davis with an 85 MPH slider on the inside edge.
And in the ninth, after the Sox had tacked on three additional insurance runs, Brandon Workman locked down the 7-2 win in a scoreless final inning with some help from Michael Chavis at first.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy, who came into Saturday with a 3.02 ERA in his last seven starts.
As those recent impressive numbers indicate, Bundy did his part to hold the Boston bats through their first 2 1/2 times through the batting order.
They had a handful of scoring chances early on, but it wasn’t until Rafael Devers led the top of the sixth off with a hard-hit single where things really started to roll.
Immediately following Devers’ single, Xander Bogaerts came through with his team’s first run of the day by driving in the third baseman on a line drive RBI double to left. Brock Holt essentially did the same two pitches later by plating Bogaerts on a run-scoring single to right field.
A single from Michael Chavis to move Holt into scoring position would be how Bundy’s outing came to a close, and Sandy Leon greeted new O’s reliever Richard Bleier by scoirng Holt, who advanced to third on a Jackie Bradley Jr. ground out, by reaching first on a fielding error committed by Alberto over at third. 3-0.
Fast forward to the seventh, and a red-hot JD Martinez continued on with his power surge by blasting his 16th big fly of the season and fourth in his last three games. Per Statcast, Martinez’s opposite field shot had an exit velocity of 109 MPH off the bat and was deposited 427 feet into the right-center field bleachers.
Finally, in the ninth, with right-hander Miguel Castro on the hill, the Sox once again took advantage of sloppy defensive play from the Orioles, but not before loading the bases with one out for Bogaerts.
On the first pitch he saw from Castro, the Red Sox shortstop lifted a fly ball plenty deep enough to center to drive in Mookie Betts from third.
Just a few moments after that, Holt also collected his second RBI with another run-scoring base knock that allowed Andrew Benintendi to come in from third.
With Chavis at the plate, Holt took off for second and a poor throw from Pedro Severino behind the plate as well as a poor attempt to knock the ball down from Alberto covering the bag gave Devers more than enough time to score from third.
That put the Red Sox ahead 7-2, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
Chris Sale has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in eight of his last 10 starts. In that 10-start span, the left-hander is averaging 14.2 punchouts per nine innings.
JD Martinez’s June so far: 16-for-45 with three doubles, one triple, five home runs and eight RBI.
Rafael Devers during his five-game hitting streak: 9-for-22 with one double, one triple, one home run, and four RBI.
Brock Holt in June: .444/.500/.611 with one double, one triple, one homer, and eight RBI.
Michael Chavis during his five-game hitting streak: 7-for-21 with one double, two home runs, and four RBI.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of this three-game series on Sunday afternoon.
Left-hander Brian Johnson will make his first start since being activated from the 10-day injured list on Friday. The 28-year-old hasn’t appeared in a game for Boston since April 5th after being shelved with inflammation in his left elbow.
In two prior appearances at Camden Yards, neither of which were starts, Johnson did not surrender a run over 1 2/3 total innings of relief.
For Baltimore, it will be another southpaw taking the mound in the form of John Means, who held the Sox to one run in each of the two starts he has made against them in 2019.
On the season as a whole, the 26-year-old owns a 1.57 ERA through eight games (six starts) at home.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep and their fifth straight win.