Going into the series finale in Texas today, I was very much looking forward to the pitching matchup in this one. On one side, we had Chris Sale going for the Red Sox, and on the other, Doug Fister got the start for the Rangers. Both were teammates in Boston for the majority of last season and both work at a diligent and refreshing pace.
Between the two, it was Sale who had the better day on the mound, as the lefty tossed seven full innings of one run ball. Over that span, Sale scattered one run on four hits to go along with one walk, two HBP’s and a season-high 12 strikeouts. The Florida native set the tone right away with three strikeouts in the first to kick off his eighth start of 2018. After that, the only costly mistake Sale made came in his final frame of work, when he surrendered a leadoff home run to Ryan Rua in the seventh. Other than that, it was a phenomenal day for Sale. He had his full arsenal working, including his slider, which he was having issues with earlier in the season. At 3-1, it’s a shame Sale will miss the upcoming series in New York. Expect his next start to come Friday or Saturday in Toronto.
In relief of Sale, and with a five run lead to work with, the Red Sox bullpen was nearly perfect yet again. Matt Barnes got the call for the eighth inning, he needed just nine pitches to retire the Rangers side in order. Next up was Carson Smith, and he would be responsible for the last three innings of this one. He allowed a single with one out, but struck out the next two batters he faced to wrap things up for the Red Sox in Arlington.
On the other side of things, Mitch Moreland got the scoring started for the Red Sox early. A Mookie Betts leadoff single in the first would later lead to a run when Moreland took a 82 MPH changeup from Rangers starter Doug Fister and ripped it into the left field corner. That would score Betts from second, but the Red Sox outfielder would have to leave the game an inning later due to a right shoulder contusion.
Two innings later, after JD Martinez doubled to left field with one out, Xander Bogaerts drove in the second run of the day by sending another ground ball to left field that scored Martinez from second. Fister would settle down a little bit after that, but the bottom half of the Red Sox lineup got to the veteran righty in the sixth.
With two outs in the inning, Eduardo Nunez got the rally started on a simple single to left field. After Jackie Bradley Jr. took a 89 MPH fastball off his elbow to put runners on first and second, Sandy Leon came through with the first home run from a Red Sox catcher this season.
That 398 foot, three-run shot put the Red Sox up 5-0. JD Martinez would homer for the eighth time this season an inning later to put his team up by six runs, and that’s all the scoring they would need to pick up this series-clinching win.
Some notes from this one:
With 12 K’s on the day, Chris Sale is now fourth in baseball with 63 strikeouts on the season, trailing only Max Scherzer, Gerritt Cole, and Justin Verlander.
In 32 games played this season, JD Martinez has recorded multiple hits in 15 of them. He is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak after a two hit performance at the plate today.
Going into their first series of the season at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox and Yankees will own the best two records in the American League. With a one-game lead in the division, this series isn’t pivotal for the Red Sox and their season, but it does carry some importance. Drew Pomeranz will be first up on Tuesday, and he’ll be matched up against Yankees ace Luis Severino, who is coming off his first career complete game shutout. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Tuesday. Should be a fun week.