After their series finale against the Kansas City Royals was suspended earlier in the morning, the Red Sox opened up a four-game weekend set against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday with a 3-0 shutout victory to improve to 61-56 on the season.
Making his 24th start of the season for Boston and first against the Angels at Fenway Park was Chris Sale, who came into the week fresh off a frustrating performance in his last time out against the New York Yankees.
Flipping the switch this time around, the left-hander put together a dominating showing, as he yielded just two hits and zero walks to go along with 13 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings.
A two-out double from Shohei Ohtani in the first got the Angels in the hit column early, but Sale stranded the Japanese phenom at second with a four-pitch punchout of Justin Upton before stringing together 15 consecutive outs from the beginning of the second up until the middle of the sixth.
A leadoff single off the bat of Mike Trout in the seventh broke that dominating stretch up, but Sale retaliated yet again by fanning the side in order from there, and that included a 1-2, 98.4 MPH four-seam fastball blown past Albert Pujols to end the top half of the frame.
And in the eighth, the Florida native capped his night off with his 13th and final strikeout, this one coming on two-out, 2-2, 97 MPH heater to fan Wilfredo Tovar and retire the side in order.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (67 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 45% of the time he was on the mound Thursday night, inducing nine swings and misses and topping out at 98.4 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.
Ultimately improving to 6-11 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.41, this was vintage Chris Sale in his first start of seven or more innings pitched since June 10th. He’ll look to ride this momentum in his next time out, which should come against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
In relief of Sale, Brandon Workman entered the ninth with a three-run lead to protect, and he did just that by sitting down Brian Goodwin, David Fletcher, and Trout in order on 16 pitches to notch his seventh save of the year and secure the 3-0 win.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels left-hander Dillon Peters, a former Miami Marlins prospect who had never faced off against Boston in his young career prior to Thursday.
Starting the scoring in the bottom half of the second, J.D. Martinez led things off with an opposite field single, and that would turn out to be the catalyst for a two-run inning, as Sam Travis followed that up by taking Peters deep to dead center off a first-pitch, 93 MPH heater right down the heart of the plate.
Travis’ fourth homer of the season, this one good for two runs, had an exit velocity of 107.7 MPH and traveled a projected 443 feet, per Statcast.
Fast forward all the way to the fifth, and Sandy Leon added on to his side’s two-run lead by unloading on a 1-1, 90 MPH four-seamer above the zone from Peters and sending it 389 feet over the Green Monster for his fifth big fly of the year.
That solo shot to lead off the bottom of the fifth put the Red Sox ahead 3-0, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score mostly thanks to the efforts of one Chris Sale.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
From Red Sox Stats:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:
Thursday’s game took two hours and 16 minutes to complete.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this four-game weekend series on Friday night.
Left-hander Brian Johnson gets the start for Boston in the place of the now-shelved David Price, while right-hander Jaime Barria will do the same for Los Angeles.
In his first action since being activated off the injured list on August 3rd Johnson allowed three runs over three innings while starting Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Yankees.
In his career against the Angels, the 28-year-old has allowed one run over two appearances (one start) and seven innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.29.
Barria, meanwhile, has posted an 8.31 ERA and .288 batting average against in four outings (three starts) since the All-Star break.
The 23-year-old out of Panama has made one career start against the Red Sox, one in which he took the loss despite only yielding two runs over 5 1/3 innings of work back on June 28th of last season at Fenway Park.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their second straight win.