By MyFM's Jake Archer - Well, the Boston Red Sox offense finally got going over the weekend and they finally gave run support to their two best pitchers after a long and frustrating drought. The Sox went up to Minnesota for a three-game set with the Twins and took two of those games on Saturday and Sunday after dropping the Friday night game.
In Friday night’s game, the pitching was not to blame as the team lost 4-3 on a Joe Mauer walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Eduardo Rodriguez gave the Sox another quality start as he went six innings giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out six and walking only one. Joe Kelly and Robby Scott both had scoreless appearances in relief before John Farrell turned to Matt Barnes to pitch the bottom of the ninth.
Now, the Sox had trailed 3-1 heading into the top of the ninth before they put together a rally and tied the game on a two-run single by Chris Young. In the bottom half of the inning, with the game tied, Farrell went to his setup man. I know a lot of people want to blame John Farrell for everything under the sun, and usually he deserves some blame but this is not one of those times.
I’m perfectly fine with the manager going to the setup man and not the closer in a tie game. I understand the school of thought that has been going around lately that your best reliever should pitch in the situations that are most crucial, but I think Kimbrel should be used to save the game with a lead. In this case, Barnes, who has not been very good lately, gave up the game-winning home run to Mauer. Regardless, I blame the offense for the loss because you should not get utterly dominated like they did for the first eight innings.
Heading into Saturday, the Sox knew they had a good chance to win the next two games with Rick Porcello and Chris Sale on the mound back to back. What many people didn’t envision is the team winning because of their bats and not their arms. In the second game of the series the bats finally broke out for Porcello as they got up 8-0 in the second inning. They would tack on three more runs throughout the game but Porcello, Ben Taylor and Fernando Abad would combine to give up only one and win 11-1.
The win snapped Porcello’s unlucky losing streak and provided a spark to a lineup that needed it. They had not scored a run for Rick in four straight starts, which wasted a quality stretch of pitching, but he was happy to finally get back on track Saturday. Now the only question would be how the bats would hold up on Sunday for Chris Sale after putting up a season high 11 runs.
On Sunday, it was evident early that Chris Sale was not as sharp as usual. It’s funny to say that though, because he struck out five of the first six batters and ended up with 10 overall. But Sale was missing some spots that he doesn’t usually miss and you could see that he may have a little bit more trouble than usual. Again, a bad day for Sale is still a pretty unreal day for almost anyone.
The Sox started hot as well as they staked him to a 4-0 lead against Ervin Santana, one of the game’s best pitchers right now, heading into the bottom of the fifth. The Twins though, weren’t ready to go down easy. They battled Sale during the bottom of the fifth inning and made him work very hard. The Minnesota hitters stayed patient and allowed Sale to throw some balls, which led to a big four run inning for them. It was odd to see Sale labor, but he got out of it without giving up the lead.
The Sox would come back in the next frame to get two more runs and alleviate the pressure before Sale made his way out to the hill for the bottom of the sixth. Sale got through another inning to finish with a line of six innings pitched, four hits, four runs, three walks and 10 strikeouts. He now leads the MLB by a significant margin with 73 strikeouts and has the most strikeouts in a pitcher’s first seven appearances of a season since Curt Schilling struck out 75 in 2002.
Boston would tack on another run in the eighth before the Twins would cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the inning by scoring two off of Matt Barnes. The Sox were clinging to a one-run lead with one out and a man on third when Craig Kimbrel entered the game for what he believed would be a five-out save. He struck out back-to-back batters and came up clutch in a crucial situation.
Looking to add some insurance for Kimbrel, the Sox got going in the ninth. They would keep going for a long time too, as they plated 10 more runs to smash the game wide open and make it so Kimbrel would not have to go out for the bottom of the inning. Overall the Sox scored 17 runs on 15 hits with five of those hits being home runs.
Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon stayed hot as each of them went deep, with Leon going deep twice. Mookie Betts smashed a home run as well which was badly needed to kick-start his offensive game. Chris Young, replacing the slumping Jackie Bradley Jr., continued to hit and Mitch Moreland drove in four. It was a great day for the confidence of the Red Sox and it will hopefully propel them in the right direction as they head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers on Tuesday.