Chris Sale Fans 12 over Six Innings, Rafael Devers Homers Again as Red Sox Take Series from Blue Jays with 5-0 Win

After yet again barely holding on to take a one-run contest over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, the Red Sox wrapped up their seven-game homestand Thursday with a 5-0 victory over their divisional foes to improve to 53-44 on the season.

Making his 20th start of the season and fourth against the Blue Jays for Boston in this series finale was Chris Sale, who entered Thursday having allowed 14 runs (13 earned) over 14 2/3 innings in the previous three.

Turning things around for the better this time out, the left-hander tossed six scoreless frames, scattering just two hits and two walks to go along with 12 strikeouts on the afternoon.

Right from the jump, it appeared that Sale was on his game, as he punched out the side in order in a 17-pith top of the first.

The most trouble the Florida native ran into came in the top half of the fifth, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led things off by drawing a four-pitch walk and Brandon Drury advanced him to second on a two-out single three at-bats later.

Fortunately for Boston, Sale was able to reach back and fan Freddy Galvis on a 2-2, 96.7 MPH four-seam fastball to escape the jam.

Other than that bit of stress, Sale retired 18 of the 22 Blue Jays hitters he faced in total and capped off his stellar performance by getting Justin Smoak to softly ground out to short to put an end to the top of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 96.7 MPH with the pitch. He also induced a game-high eight whiffs with his slider, a pitch thrown eight times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

At long last, Sale’s streak of consecutive home starts without a win is over, as the lefty picked up his first victory at Fenway Park since July 11th of last year to improve to 4-9 on the 2019 season.

Lowering his ERA down to 4.05 on the season in the process of doing so, Sale’s next start should come Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came on in the seventh with a four-run lead to protect, and he did just that, working his way around a leadoff HBP by inducing a 6-4-3 inning-edning double play and twirling a 1-2-3 eighth.

Finally, in his second appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 16th, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez fanned a pair in a scoreless ninth inning to secure the shutout win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays left-hander Thomas Pannone, a native of Rhode Island who had faced the Sox twice this season before Thursday and had given up four runs across those appearances.

Pannone held his own for the most part to begin things in this one, limiting the Boston bats to just two hits over the first four innings.

It wasn’t until Sam Travis reached base on a one-out double in the bottom half of the fifth when the scoring started.

That being the case because. two pitches later, Sandy Leon got the Sox on the board with an RBI single back up the middle off a 1-0, 80 MPH changeup from Pannone.

A hard–fought walk drawn by Mookie Betts put runners at first and second for Rafael Devers, who came through in the prime run-scoring spot by mashing his 19th home run of the season, a 417-foot shot that had an estimated exit velocity of 109.8 MPH off the bat, per Statcast.

That blast put Boston ahead 4-0 and ultimately chased Pannone from this contest.

Fast forward to the seventh, and Mookie Betts essentially put this game on ice, greeting new Blue Jays reliever with a 418-foot solo shot to lead off the inning.

Betts’ 14th big fly of 2019 gave the Red Sox the 5-0 advantage, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MLB Stats:

Red Sox’ 1-2-3 hitters (Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts) on Thursday: 5-for-11 with two home runs, three runs scored, and four RBI.

Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts extended their hitting streaks to 10 games on Thurday. Over that span, Betts has scored 14 runs, while Bogaerts has recorded multiple hits in his last five games.

Rafael Devers in July: .345/.419/.782 with seven home runs and 23 RBI.

Darwinzon Hernandez on Thursday: 12 pitches, eight strikes, five swings and misses, and topped out at 97.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

So, the Red Sox end their seven-game homestand by taking three of four from the Blue Jays. Next up, they head out for a two-city, six-game road trip before welcoming the New York Yankees into town for the first time this season.

The first stop of the road trip is Baltimore, where left-hander David Price will get the start in the opener for Boston, and fellow southpaw John Means will do the same for Baltimore.

It will be Price’s first start since all that Dennis Eckersley drama resurfaced on Wednesday, but I can’t imagine that will serve as any sort of distraction for him.

In his only start against the O’s this season back on April 14th, the 33-year-old tossed a seven-inning shutout while striking out seven to earn the win.

Over 12 career outings at Camden Yards, Price owns a lifetime 2.72 ERA and .237 batting average against in 76 total innings of work.

Means, meanwhile, was selected to be Baltimore’s lone representative in the 2019 All-Star Game.

Through 19 appearances (15 starts) this season, the 26-year-old has posted an impressive 2.94 ERA and .227 batting average against despite surrendering six earned runs over six innings in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Three of those starts have come against the Sox, where Means is 1-2 with a 2.12 ERA over 17 total innings pitched. The Orioles are 1-2 in those games.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

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Chris Sale Fails to Get Through Five Innings, Falls to 3-9 on Season as Red Sox Get Blown out by Dodgers

After opening up an important three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a convincing 8-1 victory on Friday, the Red Sox fell back to earth less than 24 hours later, falling to the reigning National League champions by a final score of 11-2 on Saturday to snap a five-game winning streak.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston was Chris Sale, who entered Saturday having given up four or more runs in all of his last three outings.

Working into just the fifth inning this time around, the left-hander yielded another five runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first of those five Dodgers runs came right away in the first, when a leadoff walk of Chris Taylor came back to bite Sale on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of A.J. Pollock put the Red Sox in an early hole.

Following a second inning in which he retired the side in order, Dodgers third baseman widened the gap even further by taking Sale deep to left on a one-out, first-pitch, 91 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate, making it a 2-0 game.

Again, the Florida native recovered nicely, sitting down four of the next hitters he faced before ultimately meeting his doom in the top half of the fifth.

There, a leadoff single from Kike Hernandez and an Austin Barnes HBP put runners at first and second with one out for Turner.

This time, on a 2-2 slider from Sale, Turner ripped a line-drive double to left, plating Hernandez and moving Barnes up to third.

A brief mound visit made no difference in the next at-bat, as David Freese followed suit with another run-scoring two bagger to left, this one scoring both Barnes and Hernandez to put the Dodgers up 5-1.

Sale remained in and got Cody Bellinger to line out to right for the second out of the frame, but his disappointing evening would come to a close right after that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (57 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 96.7 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-9 on the year with his ERA inflating up to 4.27, the last few weeks have clearly been a difficult time for Sale. It’s not a Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon problem. It’s a Chris Sale problem, and that falls on the Red Sox’ coaching staff, per manager Alex Cora.

Sale’s next start should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next Thursday, a team that has given him plenty of trouble so far this season.

In relief of Sale, Heath Hembree came on with a runner on second and one out to get, and he did just that by punching out Max Muncy on five pitches after plunking Pollock.

From there, Colten Brewer worked his way around a pair of walks in a scoreless sixth, and Steven Wright served up back-to-back one-out solo jacks to Bellinger and Pollock in the seventh before taking a comebacker off his foot on a Muncy comebacker.

Marcus Walden entered in place of Wright, and he officially closed the book on the knuckleballer’s outing by getting Corey Seager to ground out to Christian Vazquez at first, but in his first ever start at first, Vazquez made the mistake of trying to lead Rafael Devers with a throw across the field which got through to shallow left and allowed Muncy to score all the way from first.

Walden also surrendered a run of his own by walking Hernandez with two outs and giving up an RBI triple to Barnes, which should have been caught by Andrew Benintendi in the first place.

It was not, however, and the Dodgers went up 9-2 because of it.

Ryan Brasier allowed a run on a Bellinger sacrifice fly in his lone inning of work in the eighth, and Hector Velazquez got taken deep by Muncy to lead off the ninth in an otherwise scoreless frame. That Muncy homer gave Los Angeles an 11-2 advantage.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Ross Stripling, who has worked both out of the rotation and bullpen for the Dodgers this season.

Starting the scoring for Boston Saturday was Xander Bogaerts, picking up right where he left off on Friday by blasting his 19th big fly of the year 386 feet off the left-most light tower in left field to tie this contest back up at one run apiece.

Fast forward to the sixth, with Stripling done and old friend Joe Kelly in for the Dodgers, Bogaerts struck again, driving in Mookie Betts from third on another one-out knock, this one an RBI single to right field to pull his team back to within three runs.

A six-pitch walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi and wild pitch from Kelly put runners in scoring position with two outs for Christian Vazquez, but the former Red Sox flame thrower won the battle, fanning his old battery mate on a 3-2, 98.4 MPH heater to end the threat.

That was all the offense the Sox could muster, as they went 0-for-their-last-9 over the final three innings, and this one concluded with a final score of 11-2.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox are 44-29 in games not started by Chris Sale this season.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Since June 21st, Sale is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.59 over his last four starts. He has not won a decision at Fenway Park since July 11th, 2018.

The Red Sox’ 4-6 hitters (J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez) on Saturday: 0-for-11 with one walk and five strikeouts.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of this World Series rematch on Sunday night.

Left-hander David Price will get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw and National League All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu will do the same for Los Angeles.

Holding opponents to a .233 batting average against over his last four starts going back to that meltdown against the Texas Rangers, Price enters Sunday with a rotation-best 3.24 ERA on the 2019 season.

In two prior career starts against the Dodgers, Price owns a lifetime 2.25 ERA over a small 12 inning sample size.

Ryu, meanwhile, currently owns the lowest ERA in the National League at 1.73 through 17 starts on the year.

The 32-year-old got the start for Los Angeles in Game 2 of the 2018 Fall Classic, where he allowed four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings and eventually took the loss. That’s the only experience he has at Fenway Park.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox going for the series win.

 

Christian Vazquez Batting Sixth, Starting at First for Red Sox in Second Game Against Dodgers

For the first time in his career, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will be starting at first base against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

With Sox manager Alex Cora deciding to go back to Sandy Leon behind the plate to catch Chris Sale, the need to keep a red-hot Vazquez in the lineup was there, so, the backstop will be getting the start over at first in the second of this three-game weekend set.

Since breaking out of a 3-for-23 slump on June 11th, the 28-year-old is slashing .352/.359/.682 with eight home runs and 20 RBI over his last 21 games.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Vazquez leads all American League catchers (min. 250 plate appearances) in hits (78) and fWAR (2.9), per Fangraphs.

In his five-year big league career, 90% of all appearances the Puerto Rico have made have come as a catcher.

Back on April 15th of this season, Vazquez got the start at second against the Baltimore Orioles, where he went 0-for-3.

On April 24th, Vazquez moved from catcher to first base in the ninth inning of an 11-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. He did not commit an error.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up on Saturday behind Chris Sale. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX.

Three Home Runs and Seven Masterful Innings from Eduardo Rodriguez Lift Red Sox to Rain-Filled 8-1 Win over Dodgers

In their first game at Fenway Park since June 26th, the Red Sox took the first of a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, opening the second half of their season with a commanding 8-1 victory Friday night.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston in this World Series rematch was Eduardo Rodriguez, who capped off his first half with back-to-back outings of five or more innings pitched and less than two runs given up.

Picking up right where he left off in this one, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on five hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts to tie a season-high over seven quality innings of work.

That one Los Angeles run came in the top half of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Alex Verdugo unloaded on a 1-2, 87 MPH cutter from Rodriguez and deposited 374 feet into the right field seats.

Other than that, the Venezuela native maneuvered his way around back-to-back walks earlier in the first before retiring 17 of the next 21 Dodgers hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, where his night came to a close with a ground out off the bat of Corey Seager to strand runners at first and second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (67 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing eight swings and misses and topping out at 94.1 MPH with the pitch. He also got 11 whiffs with his changeup, a pitch he threw 33 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Improving to 10-4 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.43, Rodriguez will look to keep this recent encouraging run going in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Rodriguez, after an hour-long rain delay, left-hander Josh Taylor came on, fanned one and tossed a scoreless eighth to make way for Hector Velazquez in the ninth.

Like Taylor, Velazquez also punched out one lone Dodger en route to securing the convincing 8-1 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda, who allowed one run over three relief appearances against Boston in last year’s Fall Classic.

Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox right away in the first inning, picking up where he left off before the break by mashing his 17th home run of the season, a 372-foot opposite field shot over the Monster, to put his team on the board.

An inning later, it was Christian Vazquez getting back in the swing of things, this time taking Maeda deep to left on a one-out, 3-2 changeup for his 15tth big fly which also broke a brief 1-1 stalemate.

Fast forward to the sixth, after the Dodgers starter had his way for a bit, and back-to-back doubles from Mookie Betts and Devers to lead off the frame got Boston back on the board again. 3-1.

In the seventh, with Maedo out and reliever Pedro Baez in, a one-out single from Jackie Bradley Jr., followed by Michael Chavis and Bradley Jr. both reaching base safely on a fielder’s choice, brought Brock Holt to the plate in a prime insurance run spot.

Having only faced the Dodgers one-time before Friday in his career, Holt capitalized on said run-scoring opportunity with a first-pitch RBI double off the left field wall, scoring Bradley Jr. and advancing Chavis up to third.

That gave the Sox a 4-1 advantage, and an hour-long weather delay meant Los Angeles had to turn to a new pitcher in righty JT Chargois with one out and runners in scoring position for Boston.

Mookie Betts came through in his first at-bat following the lengthy stoppage, driving in Chavis from third on a sacrifice fly to center. 5-1.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts made the Dodgers pay for intentionally walking Devers by punishing a 1-1 slider from Chargois and sending it 388 feet just over that home run marker on the Monster.

Bogaerts’ 18th blast of 2019 put the Red Sox ahead 8-1, and that would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 6-1 in their last seven games. Over that span, they are averaging 7.7 runs per game.

The 22 swings and misses Eduardo Rodriguez got on Friday set a new career-high.

From Red Sox Notes

From WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Red Sox Stats

From the Red Sox:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday night.

Left-hander Chris Sale will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Ross Stripling will do the same for Los Angeles.

Since June 15th, Sale has posted a 5.96 ERA and .301 batting average against over his last four starts and 22 2/3 innings pitched.

Last time he pitched against the Dodgers, Sale recorded the final out of the 2018 World Series in Game 5.

Stripling, meanwhile, did not make an appearance at all for LA last October, and only has one prior start against the Sox under his belt, one in which he put together five scoreless innings in a winning effort back on August 6th, 2016.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox going for their sixth straight win.

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Casting Wide Net’ in Search of Adding Starting Pitcher Before Trade Deadline

The Red Sox are reportedly ‘pushing’ to add a starting pitcher, and they are looking to do it ‘sooner rather than later,’ according to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

This report comes less than a week after Sox manager Alex Cora announced that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi would be moving to the bullpen once he is activated off the injured list in the coming weeks.

With that impending move to the ‘pen, Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation, which had been occupied by the likes of Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, and so on, became more of a pressing area of improvement for Boston.

Per ESPN.com, the Red Sox’ rotation owns an ERA of 4.70 and batting average against of .257, the seventh and eighth best in the American League, respectively.

Last Friday, when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, “We built our ballclub for (the starting rotation) to be our strong suit. I don’t think it’s been what we expected or hoped.”

Dombrowski also added that, “They’re a very talented group of pitchers…They’re the guys who are supposed to carry us, really. That’s why I think they’ve been fine. They’ve been okay. But I can’t say they’ve really carried us at any point.”

Names the Red Sox could pursue in trade talks include San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, although they are more of the premium targets.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd and Texas Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, two hurlers Boston was scouting late last month, could be made available as well, but it has been reported that Boyd has a high asking price, while the Rangers remain in contention for a wild card spot.

The situation the Red Sox are in reminds me of what happened last season right before the club acquired Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. All the speculation pointed to the Sox pursuing a reliever like Zach Britton to bolster their bullpen, but they went out and traded for a starter instead.

We’ll just have to wait and see what Dombrowski has in mind leading into the July 31st trade deadline, and how said plans could affect any luxury tax implications.

Chris Sale Allows Five Runs on Three Homers as Red Sox Fall to Blue Jays 6-3

After snapping a three-game skid with a 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Red Sox fell flat once again on Wednesday, dropping a 6-3 contest to fall back to 45-41 on the season.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston in the middle game of this three-game series was Chris Sale, who capped off his month of June with two subpar outings against these Blue Jays and the Chicago White Sox.

That trend continued in his first action of July, as the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on a season-high nine hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with just five strikeouts on the night.

All five of those runs came courtesy of three different home run balls, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and Brandon Drury taking Sale deep in this one.

Gurriel Jr. struck first in the bottom half of the third, putting his team on the board right after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with a 406-foot solo shot off a 1-0 93 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate.

Jansen made Sale pay for walking Justin Smoak with one out in the fourth by launching his sixth homer of the year, a 421-foot shot to deep left field on a first-pitch 95 MPH fastball from Sale.

That dinger knotted things up at 3-3, and it seemed as though Sale would be able to escape the sixth unscathed following another GIDP to erase a leadoff HBP.

Unfortunately for the Florida native, a Rowdy Tellez two-out single brought Brandon Drury to the plate for the third time, and he unloaded on a 1-1 91 MPH heater down the heart of the plate by depositing it 408 feet over the center field wall.

The Blue Jays went up 5-3 on that booming shot, and Sale’s evening quickly came to a close before Drury had even crossed home.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (69 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 44% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 96.5 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-8 with his ERA jumping up to 4.04 on the season, the first half of Sale’s 2019 did not go unexpected. Inconsistent would be a better way to put it. He’ll look to begin the second half of the year on a more positive note in his next time out, which should come against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first series out of the All-Star break.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that, and worked his way around a one-out walk in a scoreless seventh as well.

Finally, Steven Wright got the call for the eighth, yielded one run on a sacrifice fly from Freddy Galvis to add on another run to the deficit at 6-3, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Jacob Waguespack after fellow righty David Phelps served as Toronto’s opener and tossed a scoreless first.

Fast forward to the third, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his team with a two-out, two-run single off Waguespack, plating Mookie Betts and Brock Holt from second and third to make it a 2-0 game early.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez came through with two outs this time around, taking the first pitch he saw from the Jays right-hander, a 90 MPH cutter on the outer half of the plate, and sending his 13th big fly of the season 408 feet to dead center.

Vazquez’s monstrous blast gave the Sox a 3-1 advantage, but it would be the last run they scored all night.

Oh sure, they had their chances, especially in the seventh with one out and runners on second and third in a 5-3 game for the pinch-hitting Eduardo Nunez following a Michael Chavis double.

New Toronto reliever Daniel Hudson held his own though, getting Nunez to fly out to left and fanning Mookie Betts on six pitches to kill any shot of a rally.

In the eighth, Hudson stranded J.D. Martinez at first after he reached on a two-out single, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles needed just 10 pitches to retire Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Chavis in order in the ninth, all but wrapping up the 6-3 loss for Boston.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left five men on base.

On the day he was named an All-Star for the second time in his big league career, Xander Bogaerts picked up his first ever Golden Sombrero by punching out four times Wednesday.

During his seven-game hitting streak, Rafael Devers is slashing .516/.531/.935 with two homers and 10 RBI.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

In his last three starts, Chris Sale has posted a 7.02 ERA over 16 2/3 innings pitched.

The Red Sox are 6-12 in games started by Chris Sale this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Thursday.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Marcus Stroman is expected to do the same for Toronto.

With Brian Johnson on the shelf due to “non-baseball” reasons, Velazquez has taken over the fifth spot in the Sox’ rotation for the time being.

As a starter this season, the 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 6.41 ERA and .239 batting average against over 19 2/3 innings of work.

In five career appearances (two starts) at Rogers Centre, Velazquez owns a lifetime 2.57 ERA and .292 batting average against over a small seven inning sample size.

Stroman, meanwhile, has already faced the Red Sox twice this year, and has only allowed one earned run in those two starts and 12 innings pitched. The Blue Jays are 2-0 in those games.

In his last start against the Kansas City Royals this past Saturday, Stroman left early with a cramp in his left pectoral muscle, so it will be worth seeing if that has any impact on Toronto’s ace.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.

Red Sox Blow 16th Save of Season, Fail to Sweep White Sox in Demoralizing 8-7 Loss

After coming from behind in a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, the Red Sox opened the official second half of the 2019 season by nearly completing the three-game sweep over the South Siders, but instead blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday and fell by a final score of 8-7 in their final contest before heading to London for the weekend.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston, Chris Sale was not his usual self to begin things in the series finale, but he settled in towards the end.

Tossing six full innings in this one, the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on six hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts on the afternoon.

All five of those Chicago runs came within Sale’s first three frames of work, with the first four batters of the ballgame all reaching base safely while plating their side’s first two runs.

In the third, a leadoff home run off the bat of backstop James McCann, as well as a two-out RBI infield single from Ryan Cordell to score Jon Jay, who was hit by a pitch, from third made it a 5-2 game. The thing is, that fifth run never would have crossed the plate had Michael Chavis turned his attention towards home instead of focusing on the first base umpire after Cordell beat out that infield single. But, a rookie made a rookie mistake, and Jay took full advantage.

Following that whole sequence, Sale locked in and proceeded to retire the next 10 hitters he faced in order leading into the middle of the sixth inning, the point in which his outing came to a close on a much more positive note than it seemed destined to earlier.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing 10 swings and misses and topping out at 97.4 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Hit with another no-decision, Sale’s streak of regular season starts without a win at Fenway Park now stands at 12, with the last one coming on July 11th, 2018 against the Texas Rangers. He’ll look for better overall results and to lower his 3.82 ERA in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next weekend.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came into the seventh with his side in a two-run hole, and he added on to that deficit by giving up one run on a Jose Abreu one-out RBI single in his lone inning of work.

Steven Wright, making his 2019 season debut after being activated from the restricted list on Tuesday, maneuvered around a one-out, runners on the corners in a two-run game situation by getting the pinch-hitting Yonder Alonso to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

And in the ninth, after the Red Sox had climbed their way back and taken a 7-6 lead in the bottom half of the previous inning, Matt Barnes gave it all away, blowing his sixth save and his team’s 16th by serving up a go-ahead, two-run homer to the slugging Abreu on a 2-2, 97 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

That put the White Sox up 8-7, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Chicago right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who just so happened to be opposite Sale the last time these two clubs met up in May.

Trailing by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston by pulling them back to within one run on his 17th big fly of the season, a 400-foot two-run shot in the first inning to plate both Rafael Devers and himself.

Fast forward to the third, and it was Devers getting himself involved yet again, this time leading the inning off with an opposite field double and coming in to score four batters later on a wild pitch from Lopez with Michael Chavis at the dish. 5-3.

In the seventh, Martinez struck once more with a two-out RBI double to right-center off left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer, this one driving in Devers all the way from first to pull Boston back to within two runs at 6-4.

Finally, in the eighth, with new reliever Evan Marshall in for Chicago, Eduardo Nunez reached base safely on a line-drive single up the middle.

Two batters later, after Brock Holt pinch-hit for Sandy Leon and advanced Nunez up to third on a tough, pop fly ground-rule double and was replaced by Brian Johnson, yes, Brian Johnson, as a pinch-runner, Mookie Betts made things interesting against White Sox closer Alex Colome with a single grounder to third.

Going on any sort of contact, Nunez hustled in from third and managed to evade the tag attempt from McCann to score his team’s fifth run and make it a one-run contest.

A soft grounder from Devers moved up both Betts and Johnson into scoring position at second and third for Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the frame.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Colome, the soon to be 2019 All-Star drilled a clutch single right back up the middle, giving Johnson and Betts plenty of time to come in and put the Red Sox up 7-6.

It seemed crucial at the time, but as already mentioned, the White Sox responded with two runs of their own in their half of the ninth, while the Boston bats went down quietly in theirs despite Jackie Bradley Jr. drawing a leadoff walk in what would turn out to be a crushing 8-7 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

The Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left 10 men on base.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .538/.556/.846 with one home run, five doubles, and four runs driven in.

So, the Red Sox seem to be making blowing late leads a recurring theme. There was that loss against the Blue Jays this past Saturday, that 17-inning against the Twins on June 18th, and that loss against the Rangers on June 10th, to name a few.

The Red Sox also lead the American League with 16 blown saves on the year. That is far from ideal.

I’ve already written about how president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski needs to go out and acquire a closer, because clearly the current crop of Red Sox relievers are going to burn out pretty soon, if they have not already, a la Matt Barnes.

Wednesday was the last time the Red Sox will play a game at Fenway Park until after the All-Star break on July 12th.

Now, it’s on to London, where Boston will be hosting the New York Yankees in a historic two-game weekend set across the pond, which will mark the first time Major League Baseball has ever been played in Europe.

Right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the starting nods for the Red Sox, while New York has only announced one starter, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, for Saturday’s contest.

Currently sitting nine games back of the Yankees for first in the American League East, this weekend presents a huge opportunity for the Red Sox to jump start the second half of their 2019 season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox looking to make some history in England.