Boston Red Sox

Baseball starts when the playoffs end

405327.jpg

Baseball starts when the playoffs end

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

I was talking to my dad on the phone last night when we lapsed into familiar silence. We were both watching TV.

"Beckett's pitching a good one," he said.

"Dad, the Celtics are on," I countered.

"So?"

"It's the playoffs!" I said.

It's a battle we've waged for a few weeks now.

I'm not winning.

Beyond the gavel slam of "I'm the dad, you're the kid; I'm right, you're wrong; I'm big, your small," my father refuses to be wooed by the drama and romance of the playoffs. "The Cup" may as well be the gear Bob Stanley wore under his baseball pants. And Hub hoops? Forget it. There was a multi-decade stretch where the last live Celtics game my dad saw was at The Real Garden, on The Real Parquet, with The Real Big Three. He was more than happy to keep it that way.

So it is baseball or bust in the Paoletti home.

But my dad's not winning either. Last night I didn't watch a single pitch.

The Bruins are off until Saturday. Did it matter? Nope. Big Baby was annoying me and playoff hockey is playoff hockey, so I flipped over to CanucksPredators. When Nashville fans threw a catfish onto the ice, I didn't call back to ask my dad where, exactly, he thinks a person would keep a dead catfish during a hockey game before throwing it. When Shea Weber lifted Ryan Kesler like a bad puppy up and out of the crease by the scruff of his neck, I laughed with a bunch of strangers on Twitter.

Curiosity eventually (impossibly) outweighed Glen Davis and I bounced back to the NBA. Those last five minutes of regulation were more tense than a prison shower. But more fun. I fist pumped and swore and curled into a ball at the edge of my couch.

Though the Celtics lost, I was glad I watched.

My dad tells me I've been missing out.

Beckett did pitch well Monday night. The righty lasted seven scoreless and threw 70 of his 103 pitches for strikes. Alfredo Aceves balked again, which is always funny as long as the move doesn't actually lose the game. Carl Crawford hit his second walk-off just this week.

The cheers went unheard outside of Fenway Park because I, and everybody else, was too busy watching the elderly Celtics get dumped from their wheelchairs by Miami.

Not tonight.

The C's have one night off and the Bruins have four so the Red Sox will have my full attention. For an hour.

The Red Wings will try to force a Game 7 on San Jose at 8 p.m. I like the old, (legally) faithful Wings. Jimmy Howard's years tending net for UMaine only further endears them to me. I won't be ignoring the Sox entirely -- Boston v. Blue Jays is an AL East showdown, after all.

Throw in Jacoby Ellsbury's 18-game hit streak and Jon Lester on the mound, and I can guarantee a flip back to Toronto during Game 6 commercials. Will I catch every pitch? Not even half of them. Will I witness the moment Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes another step away from the Mendoza Line? Maybe in a month.

For now, the sports standoff will continue.

At least until the playoffs shooting stops.

Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

sale_092017_red_sox.jpg

Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

BALTIMORE - Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox, who reduced their magic number for reaching the postseason to one. If the Angels lost to Cleveland later Wednesday night, Boston would be assured no worse than a wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.

The Red Sox, of course, would prefer to enter as AL East champions. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Yankees with 10 games left.

After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games.

Sale notches his 300th strikeout of the season

sale_red_sox_092017.jpg

Sale notches his 300th strikeout of the season

BALTIMORE — One of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in Red Sox history saw a milestone toppled Wednesday night. 

In a dominant start vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards, Chris Sale became the first American League pitcher this century to strike out 300 batters in a season. He also put himself in striking distance of the Red Sox single-season record for Ks, 313.

Sale is the 14th different pitcher since 1920 to reach the 300 mark. The only other pitcher to do so in a Red Sox uniform was Pedro Martinez, who set the club record of 313 in 1999.

Sale was at 12 strikeouts and 99 pitches through seven innings Wednesday night with the Sox ahead 6-0. The offense added two more runs in the top of the inning, prompting Sox manager John Farrell to warm up righty Austin Maddox.

But Sale nonetheless took the mound. The first two batters of the inning grounded out. On a 2-2 pitch to the left-handed hitting Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a front-door slider that caught Flaherty looking. It was his 111th pitch of the night.

Sale has two more scheduled starts, although he may only make one more. 

His final appearance of the regular season projects to be Game No. 162 against the Astros. If the Sox have the American League East wrapped up, Sale could well be held out of that game. 

The Sox and Astros meet for four games to end the regular season at Fenway Park, and may be first-round opponents if the Indians maintain the best record in the AL and therefore home field advantage.

The last time a pitcher in either league struck out 300 was 2015, when Clayton Kershaw did so for the Dodgers.

Sale was in line for his 17th win Wednesday, tying his career high.