Red Sox

Chris Sale strikes out 11 in 4-0 win over Mariners

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Chris Sale strikes out 11 in 4-0 win over Mariners

SEATTLE -- When Chris Sale woke up Wednesday, he was unaware the Red Sox were on a four-game losing streak.

"I actually fell asleep before the end of it. I woke up this morning and heard the news," Sale said of Boston's 13-inning loss the previous night.

Sale was brilliant, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners that featured a home run by 20-year-old Rafael Devers , who became the youngest Boston player to hit a home run in more than 50 years.

Sale headed back to the team hotel early on Tuesday night to be rested for a day game. He didn't know about Seattle's two-run rally in the 13th inning, shortly after midnight.

About 12 hours later, the Red Sox got exactly what they needed from their ace to avoid being swept. He struck out 11 , the 14th time this season he reached double digits. Sale allowed doubles to Jean Segura and Guillermo Heredia, and a broken-bat single to Ben Gamel, but none of the three to reach base via hit ever advanced.

"It's deception, it's angle. He does a lot of things well," Gamel said.

Sale (13-4) has struck out at least nine batters in each of his 12 road starts this season, the longest streak dating to 1913. He's won five of his last six decisions and became the first AL pitcher with 13 wins.

In two starts on Boston's trip, Sale allowed seven hits in 13 innings and struck out 20.

"We're watching one of the better years ever pitched by a major league pitcher in the American League," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We're fortunate it's in our uniform."

A day after his major league debut, Devers led off the third inning by sending a 2-1 fastball from starter Andrew Moore out to center field for his first hit in the majors. At 20 years and 275 days old, Devers was the youngest Red Sox player to homer since Tony Conigliaro in September 1965. Devers added a single in the seventh inning.

"It was surreal. When I got back to the dugout I could barely walk to be honest with you," Devers said through an interpreter. "I was just so happy about it. It was just a good moment."

Moore (1-3) was solid, but the long ball was his problem. Along with Devers' shot, Moore gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Sandy Leon in the fourth inning. Moore hung a 1-2 curveball and Leon hit his sixth homer of the season. Moore was able to save Seattle's bullpen by lasting 6 2/3 innings.

"He's learning. Certainly, I like his competitiveness. He just didn't have that pitch to finish them today and the home run ball got him," Seattle manager Scott Servais said of Moore. "I do like the way he's able to make adjustments in-game, he's done that a number of times."

SHUTOUT SEATTLE

Boston recorded its fifth shutout of the season and second in the past two weeks. Oddly enough, three of Boston's shutouts came against Seattle; the teams played just six times in the regular season.

DAYS OFF

Boston's Mookie Betts and Seattle's Robinson Cano, both All-Stars this year, got a break from the starting lineup with each team having a day off Thursday. Cano's only duty was catching the ceremonial first pitch from Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Boston placed right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor on the 10-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his ribs. The move was retroactive to July 23. The Red Sox activated right-hander Blaine Boyer from the disabled list. Boyer had been out since July 16 with an elbow strain.

Mariners: OF Jarrod Dyson (toe) is expected back in the lineup on Friday. Dyson missed the previous three games after hyperextending his toe crashing into the wall last Saturday against the Yankees. Servais wanted to give Dyson one more game off with an off day on Thursday.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: After a day off, Boston opens up a 10-game homestand against Kansas City. David Price (5-3) will start in the opener.

Mariners: Following an off day, the Mariners open a three-game series with the New York Mets. Ariel Miranda (7-4) will start the opener on Friday.

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.