I love Chris Sale. I loved him in Chicago and I love him now. I know that I kind of did this on Saturday when Sale made his last start and I’m gonna do it again. He’s just so good. Eight shutout innings while getting 13 strikeouts, what more can you ask for? And he did this while scattering four hits and only giving up one walk. Chris Sale is a machine. With 102 pitches through eight innings, you’d expect to see Sale come out for the ninth, but did he? Nope. Instead, John Farrell decided to go with closer Craig Kimbrel, who has been on a nice hot streak. The Red Sox scored in the ninth, so I’m not gonna harp on this move too much. I mean, the ninth inning is Kimbrel’s inning. He didn’t pitch on Wednesday so it makes sense to insert him into that situation. Instead of closing out the game, Kimbrel showed flashes of his old(?) self by giving up a solo home run to Blue Jays DH Kendrys Morales. I believe that’s the first time Kimbrel and Morales have ever faced each other in a game, so, credit to Morales for coming up big in a clutch situation. Luckily for Kimbrel, Mookie Betts and the Red Sox would answer back (more on that later) in the tenth, which allowed Kimbrel to pick up the victory by getting the Jays 1-2-3 with 3 strikeouts in the bottom of the tenth. Hopefully, his first blown save of the season won’t do anything to effect Kimbrel’s confidence going forward.
It appears that the Red Sox offense is not in favor of scoring runs for Chris Sale. Once again, they gave him absolutely nothing in terms of run support. It’s certainly frustrating that this pattern is staying persistent. In his four starts, the Red Sox have scored a combined three runs when Sale is the pitcher of record. Before Thursday, the Red Sox ranked 16th in the Majors in terms of runs scored, with 65 runs through 15 games. The team also ranks dead last in home runs with a total of 7 on the year. I can understand the lack of power, but this lineup needs to step up. Sooner or later, the luck will run out and they’ll start losing more close games. I remember reading something about how the 2016 Texas Rangers finished with the best record in the American League, but only had a run differential of +8. Look at the Rangers now, currently with the second worst record in the American League. I don’t think anyone wants the Red Sox to turn into that team. After Thursday’s game, the run differential for the Red Sox sits at +3, besides the Blue Jays, that’s the worst run differntial in the division. If the offense continues to struggle into the summer, I wouldn’t be shocked if Dave Dombrowski makes a move for an expiring contract who is having a good year at the plate. It’s too early to give names, but it’s something I’ll be paying attention to.
Anyway, after taking the lead in the top of the ninth on a Xander Bogaerts single that scored Mitch Moreland (league leading 11th double), the top of the lineup got the job done in the tenth. It started when Sandy Leon walked with 1 out. After swapping Leon for Marco Hernandez at first, Brock Holt got a single that moved Hernandez to second. Dustin Pedroia popped out to third baseman Chris Coghlan to make the second out, then Andrew Benintendi walked, which loaded the bases. This led to Mookie Betts, and oh boy, did he come through. On a 2-0 count, Betts smoked one down the third baseline that nearly landed in foul territory. Mookie’s double cleared the bases, scoring Hernandez, Holt, and Benintendi. Overall, this was a great series for Mookie. Getting his first home run on Tuesday, then delivering in the clutch on Thursday has to have him feeling great.
10 down, 84 to go.