Chris Sale mowed through the Red Sox with a dazzling performance, leading the White Sox to a 3-1 victory in the second game of a four-game series on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
The lefty ace demonstrated why he is one of the best in the game, carving up the Boston bats to the tune of four hits allowed and one run over seven innings. Sale walked one and struck out nine en route to his Major League-leading 12th victory.
Sale had a lead throughout his outing. Tim Anderson ripped the first pitch of the game fromClay Buchholz over the Green Monster. The White Sox added one more in the inning, and got a solo homer from Todd Frazier in the fourth.
"My arm was definitely loose and I felt really good out there," said Sale. "I had good command, and confidence, too. Before I stepped on the field, [Anderson] gives us the lead. It gives you a jolt, a spark and eases the tension to go out and throw strikes."
The one time Boston rallied -- opening the third with back-to-back singles by Travis Shawand Sandy Leon -- Sale minimized the damage, allowing just one run.
"Frankly, we're in a little bit of a dry spell right now," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We get a big opportunity in the third, bases loaded and can't cash in. We had a couple of other times with some men in scoring position. Where we've been so good for quite a bit of this season, of late, that's been a struggle with men in scoring position."
Making his re-entry into the rotation, Buchholz allowed four hits and three runs over five innings, walking one and striking out five.
The White Sox can clinch a series win on Wednesday. The Red Sox hope to win the next two to salvage a split.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Early aggression: The White Sox didn't waste any time against Buchholz on Tuesday. Anderson's first big league homer was projected by Statcast™ to travel an estimated 426 feet and had an exit velocity of 107 mph. Anderson now has five multihit games in his first 11 games. Right fielder Adam Eaton laced Buchholz's next pitch for a double off the Green Monster and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly to put the White Sox ahead, 2-0.
"It's always special anytime a guy hits his first homer," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The guys were excited. Everybody else was excited for him, so they're happy they even got it back. It was a nice little shot in the arm with Eaton following that up. It gave us a little momentum early."
Buchholz settles in: Giving up a home run and a double on the first two pitches of his first start back in the rotation was hardly the way Buchholz wanted to start. But from there, he settled down nicely, giving up two hits over the remainder of his outing. It was Buchholz's first start since May 26, which is why Farrell took him out after 78 pitches.
"Overall, I felt really good," said Buchholz. "I was able to throw changeups in some spots that I hadn't been able to throw changeups in. My curveball was good. For the most part, the first pitch of the game is the one pitch that I missed location a little bit on. They've got a good lineup. It's a tough lineup to pitch to, especially when you're going against Chris Sale."
Sale shows strength: Sale cruised through the first two innings, throwing just 22 pitches. He ran into some trouble in the third as the Red Sox's offense broke his rhythm with three hard contact hits. Besides a hit-by-pitch to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth, Sale retired 10 straight batters until the seventh inning.
"He was great. I think this was one of his better ones -- especially going up against a lineup that's been as hot as this," Ventura said. "Pitched the way he did, he navigated very well tonight. He was throwing strikes, great changeups in some tough spots and got a strikeout when you needed it, too."
Sox struggling with RISP: The Red Sox have been carried by their offense for most of the year. But of late, the bats have been coming up short. Over the past nine games, the Red Sox are 10-for-76 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-7 in that category in Tuesday's loss. Hanley Ramirez struck out with the bases loaded in the third with a chance to change the momentum of the game. Ramirez struck out three times on the night, including in the eighth with two on and two outs.
"Can't happen," said Ramirez. "You cannot miss your pitch when it's right in the middle of the plate."
INJURY UPDATE Shaw was writhing in pain after pounding a foul ball off his right leg in the fourth. But after a few minutes, he was able to get up and loosen up and the pain eased up enough that he stayed in the game. Ramirez, Boston's regular first baseman, was already in the game at designated hitter, which could have made life challenging for Farrell if Shaw was forced out of the game. Shaw went 2-for-4 with a double. There's a chance Shaw might have to rest on Wednesday.
"Just fouled a ball right off the ankle bone, pretty good shot to the ankle," Shaw said. "It was pretty loose for the most part of the game, started tightening up late. See how it feels tomorrow."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Largely due to their lack of offense, the Red Sox have allowed their opponent to score first in the last six games. Boston is 13-19 when the other team scores first.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW In the fifth inning, White Sox center fielder J.B. Shuck grounded up the middle to Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Shuck was called safe at first base, but Boston challenged. After a 30-second review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Left-hander Jose Quintana (5-7, 2.63 ERA) is set to start on Wednesday at Fenway Park in dire need of run support. In each of his last seven starts, the White Sox have scored one or zero runs for Quintana. First pitch is 6:10 p.m. CT.
Red Sox:Eduardo Rodriguez will try to snap out of his recent funk when he takes the ball in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game against the White Sox. The lefty pitched well in his first start back from the disabled list, but he has given up four earned runs or more while going less than six innings in his past three outings.