After taking two out of the three from the Detroit Tigers this past week, the Red Sox welcomed another AL Central opponent in the Chicago White Sox to town for a three game weekend set on Friday. In a pitching matchup between Dylan Covey for the White Sox and Chris Sale for the Red Sox, neither teams lineups could do much last night, as the two sides combined for one total run.
In his 14th start of the season, Sale put together a fantastic performance against his former club. Having surrendered 10 earned runs in his last 10.1 innings pitched in his last two starts, the lefty limited the White Sox to just one run in eight innings pitched last night.
Over those eight innings, Sale scattered seven hits and one walk while fanning 10 on 109 pitches, 79 of which went for strikes.
Fastball velocity has been a topic of conversation for Sale this season, but he was consistently throwing heat. Out of those 109 pitches mentioned above, 11 were clocked in at 99 MPH or higher, with the fastest coming in at 100.3 MPH on the hurler’s 69th pitch of the night in the fifth. I don’t know if the radar gun at Fenway was acting up a bit, but seeing Sale consistently reach 95+ MPH on Friday was certainly impressive stuff.
With all that said, Sale did make some mistakes last night, and the most costly of them came in the seventh. On the first pitch of the inning, White Sox catcher Kevin Smith lined a softly hit ground-rule double just in between Brock Holt and the right field wall to put a runner at second with no outs.
Two batters later, after Smith had advanced to third on a Yoan Moncada groundout, Trayce Thompson drove in the go-ahead run on a line drive single to left that was just out of Xander Bogaerts’ reach. With Smith scoring from third on the play, the only run of the night crossed the plate. Can’t put the blame on Sale for that one, more bad luck than anything.
Other than that though, Sale escaped the seventh thanks to Sandy Leon picking off Thompson at second base.
I found it a bit surprising to see him come back out for the eight, but the Florida native ended his night on a positive note by retiring the side in order in the eighth. A performance worthy of a win, but the Red Sox lineup definitely let Sale down.
Speaking of the Red Sox lineup, they managed to reach base FOUR times against a White Sox with one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. Credit to starter Dylan Covey though, he, like Sale, was also fantastic last night.
Andrew Benintendi led off things in the first with a double to left field that almost went for a solo homer, but fell just short. Brock Holt followed that up by drawing a seven pitch walk to put runners on first and second with no outs, but nothing came of it.
Later in the fifth, a one out double off the bat of Rafael Devers created another scoring chance for the Red Sox, but nothing came of it with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart both striking out to end the inning.
Two innings later, a similar situation presented itself when the Red Sox chased Covey out of the game and had runners on first and second with one out after Mitch Moreland reached on a force out at second and Eduardo Nunez reached on an E5. Unfortunately, White Sox reliever Jace Fry struck out Rafael Devers and Bradley Jr. back to back and that was that.
Some notes from this one:
The Red Sox were without JD Martinez last night due to back spasms. If you remember, Martinez departed Thursday’s game against the Tigers late because of the same issue. Alex Cora said he was looking to give the Red Sox outfielder a day off anyway, and he should be back in the lineup this afternoon.
Making his second career start against the team he started his career with, Chris Sale now owns a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings pitched against the White Sox.
With the Yankees picking up a win against the New York Mets last night, the Red Sox now trail them by half a game in the American League East standings.
In the middle game of this series, it will be a pitching matchup featuring two southpaws in Carlos Rodon for the White Sox and David Price for the Red Sox. For Rodon, today will mark his first start of the season after he was placed on the 60-day disabled list on April 12th. And for Price, well, the Red Sox are undefeated in his last five starts, so that should leave you feeling pretty confident going into this afternoon’s contest. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM.