Jackie Bradley Jr. provides power as Chris Sale tosses another win
(July 21, 2018 – Source: Leon Halip/Getty Images North America)
A night after being shutout by the Tigers and Mike Fiers, the Red Sox offense woke up to support another great start by Chris Sale. Sale tossed yet another shutout, his fourth time blanking a team in his last five starts. This start was also Sale’s eighth straight with at least 9 K’s. Sale’s performances have been nothing short of dominant, as teams seem to have no answer for the left hander. He faced virtually no trouble all day, surrendering just two hits and no walks to his 9 strikeouts. Sale’s ERA is now down to 2.13 on the season, which stands as best in the American League. In each of his starts since June, that number has somehow managed to decrease after peaking at a season high 3.00 way back on June 1st. Not only does he lead the pack in ERA, but his strikeouts (197) and K’s per nine innings (13.116) are best in the majors. Sale’s case for AL Cy Young continues to grow with each performance, as you can practically pencil in a win for the Sox every five days at this point.
Not only was the pitching great, but the offense matched Sale with their own efficient performance, as well. The scoring opened early against starter Blaine Hardy in the top of the second. With the bases loaded, Rafael Devers grounded out to drive in Steve Pearce from third. In the next at bat, Eduardo Nunez followed suit with another RBI groundout, this time scoring Xander Bogaerts from third. Nunez would drive in another run in the fourth, scoring Pearce again with a single, giving Boston a 3-0 lead.
Following Nunez’s single, with two men on, Jackie Bradley Jr. came to the plate and belted his 7th home run on the year, pushing the score to 6-0 in the fourth.
Oppo 💪 pic.twitter.com/9tIxcNUhnG
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 22, 2018
JBJ’s bat has been trending in the right direction as of late. In the month of July, he’s slashing .244/.314/.400 with an OPS .714. While these numbers aren’t anything miraculous, they’ve been the best of JBJ’s season. His RBIs in the month have been better than normal. His 12 in July have already eclipsed his 11 in June after playing only 13 games compared to 24 in June. Jackie’s ability to be a reliable bat in the lineup gives Boston one of the best outfield’s in baseball. With Pearce and J.D. Martinez as options behind Bradley, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi, the possible combinations give the Red Sox plenty of power in the outfield.
Speaking of Benintendi, he kept the scoring going in the seventh for the Sox. He ripped a two run triple to increase the lead even further to 8-0. Martinez put the final nail in the coffin with a sac fly to score Benny from third, the ninth run of the game for the Sox.
The only blemish on the day was the Boston bullpen. After Sale’s exit post sixth inning, Brandon Workman came in and gave up a solo shot to Detroit’s Jeimer Candelario in the seventh. He would get out of the inning, giving way to Joe Kelly, coming on in the eighth. He didn’t surrender any runs, but walked two in his one inning of work. Kelly’s struggles should certainly be a concern for the Sox at this point. Apart from Craig Kimbrel, Kelly may have been the most reliable arm out of the pen early on. Since June, however, his ERA has ballooned to a 4.20 mark. In his last 19 appearances, he’s given up more earned runs (14) than he’s registered strikeouts (13).
The lead was too great for bullpen struggles, as the Red Sox closed the door on the Detroit Tigers, taking two in the Motor City. The Sox are also the first team in baseball to reach 70 wins on the season. And, as I’m writing this, they hold a 5 game lead over the Yankees for the division lead, as they play the Mets tonight at 8:05.
Boston will try to keep to their winning ways tomorrow as they travel to Baltimore to take on the O’s.
Final: Red Sox 9, Tigers 1