Red Sox finally give Chris Sale some run support in 5-2 win

May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Hanley Ramirez (13) its splashed with Gatorade during an interview with NESN reporter Guerin Austin after defeating the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Hanley Ramirez (13) its splashed with Gatorade during an interview with NESN reporter Guerin Austin after defeating the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The Red Sox got another good outing from one of their starters and wasted it in the series opener yesterday but made sure not to repeat that mistake tonight.

Their previous game sucked. Plain and simple. They were shut down by Dylan Bundy and squandered a quality outing from Rick Porcello by committing four errors. Hopes were high heading into the series after the Sox took two of three from the defending World Series champions, but let’s just say that last night’s game was less than ideal. Then there were racist slurs directed toward Orioles outfielder Adam Jones to make matters extremely worse.

Tonight, however, was a different story. After a pre-game speech by Red Sox president Sam Kennedy to address the situation, Jones was greeted with a long ovation from the Fenway Faithful.

It was a big night for Hanley Ramirez, who had a pair of home runs and Chris Sale, who dominated again for his second win of the season. Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts also collected RBIs, while all but Jackie Bradley and Marco Hernandez collected hits. Craig Kimbrel was the only pitcher needed out of the bullpen and did his thing, throwing a perfect inning with one strikeout to collect his ninth save.

There was also a botched play by Orioles shortstop JJ Hardy in the eighth inning that led to one of the most bizarre triple plays you could imagine.

With runners on first and second, JBJ hit what looked like a routine pop-up to shallow left field. Backtracking, Hardy dropped the ball but had the awareness to throw it to second baseman Jonathan Schoop who promptly tagged Moreland who was off the bag, stepped on second, then threw to Chris Davis who had all day to step on first. Moreland was out because he was off the base, Pedroia was out by a force play at second, and JBJ – who didn’t run the play out – was out at first.

Ultimately, the triple play had no bearing on the outcome of the game but was a wild play nonetheless. Let’s take a look at some of the more important moments and storylines from the Red Sox’ 5-2 win.

Chris Sale dominates once again

Death, taxes, and dominant outings from Chris Sale.

In fact, I’m not sure dominant is even an apt description of how well Sale pitches on a regular basis anymore. With a final line of eight innings pitched, three hits, two walks, two earned runs, and eleven strikeouts – he’s now gone five straight starts with a minimum of seven innings and ten strikeouts. To put it in context, he’s one of just ten major league pitchers since 1980 to achieve the feat and the second to do so in a Red Sox uniform since Pedro Martinez in 1999.

Over the stretch, he’s allowed just seven earned runs in 38.2 innings pitched (1.64 ERA) and struck out 32% of the batters he’s faced. The two runs he allowed tonight bumped his season ERA up from 1.19 to 1.38 but there’s nothing to complain about there.

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Despite his extended stretch of superb pitching, Sale’s record is now just 2-2 on the season. Win-loss records don’t matter at all in evaluating a pitcher’s skill but there’s no doubt that he’d like to see his teammates equate the level of work he’s put in. In a surprising turn of events, the Red Sox lineup matched the offensive support they had given Sale over his first five starts by crossing the plate five times tonight. Let this game be a lesson to the team; if you give Chris Sale a lead, you will win.

The one real blemish on his outing was a solo home run from Manny Machado that cleared the Monster and found it’s way onto Lansdowne Street. The homer came two at-bats after Sale had thrown behind Machado’s legs in the top of the first. Whether intentional or not, the Red Sox should stop giving him a reason to be motivated.

Hanley’s big night fuels the offense

For the fourth time in four games, Hanley Ramirez hit a ball that left the yard. In fact, he did it twice in this one.

His fourth and fifth home runs of the year both cleared the Green Monster with ease and after starting the year ice cold, Hanley is officially hot. Ramirez is 10-for-24 (.417) over an eight-game stretch going back to the start of the two-game series with the Yankees and has his power stroke working again. With four home runs in his last four games, he’s back to being a much-needed presence in the middle of the Red Sox order.

While Hanley was busy crushing, other key members of the Red Sox lineup were busy getting off the schneid as well.

Dustin Pedroia opened the scoring with a single up the middle that scored Mitch Moreland, for just his sixth RBI of the season. April was by all accounts a bad month for the Laser Show, but he’s 7-for-19 (.368) in his last five games and is beginning to look like his normal self again.

Mookie Betts hit a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh that wound up being a dagger for the Orioles. Not that Sale needed much run support, but the three-run cushion put the finishing touches on their bounce-back win. The two runs provided his 14th and 15th RBI of the season and the first he’s recorded since April 23. The club’s offensive turnaround begins with Mookie as much as Hanley, so let’s hope tonight was a step in that direction.

Minor Notes

  • Mookie Betts made a sensational leaping catch on a Mark Trumbo fly ball to lead off the fifth inning. As measured by StatCast, the 83 feet he covered to make the play gave him a catch probability of just 41%.
  • Craig Kimbrel retired the minimum for the fifth time in 11 appearances this season, lowering his season ERA to 1.46 in the process.

Next: Options to fill the rotation for injured Steven Wright

The Red Sox look to secure the third game of the four-game series as they send Drew Pomeranz (2-1, 4.15 ERA) to the mound to face Orioles righty Kevin Gausman (1-2, 7.50 ERA). The last time Gausman pitched against the Sox, he was shelled for five runs on three homers in 5.2 innings pitched. He’s allowed a minimum of four runs in four of his six starts this season and carries an atrocious 11.57 ERA over his last three.