Red Sox - 000 000 001 3 - 4 7 0 Blue Jays - 000 000 001 0 - 1 5 0John Farrell is an idiot.
The Red Sox manager has made his share of strange in-game decisions over the years, but I don't think I have been as pissed at one of his blunders as I was this afternoon. It does not matter what his reasoning will be for pulling Chris Sale after eight dominating, scoreless innings. The move made absolutely zero sense. But Farrell slavishly followed the "accepted wisdom" that states if you have a lead in the ninth inning, you must bring in your closer. And so, apparently giving no thought to the context of the situation, Farrell robotically called for Craig Kimbrel. Sale had been utterly dominating and Kimbrel had not pitched since Monday. (In the game thread, I wrote: "Sale should get the 9th, at 102 [pitches]. Kimbrel worries me with a few days off.")
The game had been scoreless until Mitch Moreland doubled off Jays closer Roberto Osuna with two outs in the top of the ninth. Xander Bogaerts then lined a single to the opposite field, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. Kimbrel had begun warming earlier in the inning and despite Sale's amazing performance - 8-4-0-1-13, 102 - Kimbrel faced Toronto's 3-4-5 hitters in the bottom of the ninth. Kendrys Morales looked at a low fastball for ball 1, then crushed an off-speed pitch deep to dead center for a game-tying home run. Kimbrel got the next three hitters, striking out two of them, but ...
John Farrell is a goddamn idiot.
Jason Grilli retired Pablo Sandoval on a fly to deep center in the top of the tenth, but Sandy Leon worked a seven-pitch walk. Brock Holt (who saw 18 pitches in his first two at-bats) drilled a first-pitch single to right. Marco Hernandez pinch-ran for Leon at second. Dustin Pedroia fouled out to third, but Andrew Benintendi walked on five pitches, loading the bases for Mookie Betts. (To that point, Betts had walked and struck out twice, but he was 3-for-6 against Grilli and 9-for-25 (.360) with the bases loaded.) Grilli's 2-0 pitch came inside, right into Betts's zone - and Mookie smoked it down the left field line. It was Betts's 100th career double, and all three runners scored easily. Kimbrel pitched the tenth, as well, and he struck out the side - giving him both the blown save and the "win". Boston improved to 10-6.
Before all the late-inning drama, I was going to lead this post by saying what a joy it is to watch Sale pitch. He works fast - he retired the Blue Jays in the first inning in only 2:24, the length of a commercial break! - and he throws strikes - of his 31 pitches through three innings, only three were balls. He is utterly calm and shows no emotion on the mound. Even after he struck out Jose Bautista for the fourth time, ending the eighth inning with a man on first, his mouth remained a thin, straight line. He simply stands on the mound and methodically mows down the opposition.
Toronto barely managed a threat against Sale, whose ERA dropped to 0.91. With a man on first and one out in the third, Sale struck out both Kevin Pillar and Bautista. With runners on second and third and two outs in the fourth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia took strike three. A baserunner in the sixth was erased on a double play and Pillar, who had singled with two down in the eighth, was stranded where he stood.
Marco Estrada (6-3-0-2-7, 106) was nearly as dominating as Sale. He left a man at second in the first and fanned Betts to end the third after Pedroia and Benintendi had singled. Betts walked in the sixth and stole both second and third; Toronto was in a shift on the right side of the infield against Moreland, so Betts simply jogged to third, and Estrada could do nothing but step off the mound and watch him go.
For the first time in their history, the Blue Jays (now 3-12) have lost their first five series. ... Boston now heads to Baltimore for three games against the Orioles. It's an AL East Showdown!
Pedroia, 2BIn Sale's three starts, the Red Sox have scored a grand total of three runs.
From MLB.com's preview: "Through three starts, Sale owns a 1.25 ERA and has held opponents to a .149 batting average. ... In his last outing, Sale generated 21 swinging strikes, a total he matched or exceeded in only three starts last year."