Drellich: Sale should have been given chance to finish what he started

Drellich: Sale should have been given chance to finish what he started

The issue isn’t which pitcher gave the Red Sox a better team to win Thursday, Craig Kimbrel or Chris Sale. The chances were overwhelmingly in the Red Sox’ favor either way.

It’s about ownership.

RED SOX 4, BLUE JAYS 1

Thursday belonged to Chris Sale, who was an exhibit of efficiency and dominance at Rogers Centre. He deserved a chance to finish off one of the best outings of his career.

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t give it to him.

Fortunately for Farrell -- and fortunately for Kimbrel, whose failure will be forgotten in this conversation -- the Sox still got a win over the Blue Jays, 4-1 in 10 innings, despite Kimbrel’s blown save.

Going to Kimbrel, an elite reliever who has looked otherworldly lately, is not a bad decision in itself. But on this day, Sale should have been afforded the chance to blow this game himself, rather than be told to watch while someone else screws it up for him.

"I'm going to want the ball in that situations 10 times out of nine," Sale told reporters in Toronto.

Sale said he told pitching coach Carl Willis he was available for the ninth.

Kimbrel served up a leadoff home run to Kendrys Morales in the ninth, a shot to straightaway center that tied the game at 1-1.

“After kind of a long inning (with a replay review in the top of the ninth)  . . . [I] felt like it was time to turn it over to a guy who was fresh and powerful,” Farrell told reporters in Toronto.

It’s hard to say that Sale at 102 pitches is actually a better pitcher than Kimbrel at 0. These are two of the absolute best at their jobs. If either pitcher gave up a run, the choice would be second guessed -- and you know it.

You can say the Blue Jays benefited from a new look with Kimbrel coming in. You can argue the opposite: just consider how well Kimbrel has pitched lately.

But then, when you consider the same with Sale; when you consider the 13 strikeouts he had amassed on just 102 pitches; when you consider his ERA is now 0.91 in four starts with the Sox; it comes down to a feeling that this was his game.

Sale’s pitch count wasn’t too high. And he was already brushing with some history, albeit obscure history.

Sale on Thursday became the first Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2001 to strike out at least 12 in consecutive starts. (Pedro did it in four straight games that May.)

Thursday was the 28th time in major-league history a starter struck out 13 hitters while finishing with 102 pitches or fewer, per Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index. Teams are 21-7 in those kind of outings.

And Sale became the first starter in major-league history to strike out at least 13, finish with 102 pitches or fewer and have at least 80 of those pitches be strikes.

Farrell’s job is to put the best pitchers in position to win games. 

Between Sale and Kimbrel, there was no obvious answer Thursday as to who would position the Sox better -- not with the way both have been throwing. Who's better, Sale at 102 pitches or Kimbrel at 0? You could argue for hours.

What it should have come down to for Farrell, then, was a realization Thursday belonged to Sale, until Sale gave it away himself.

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six

Pedroia returns to lineup as Sox look to extend winning streak to six


After leaving Thursday night's game in the fifth inning and missing Friday night's game, Dustin Pedroia is back in the Red Sox lineup Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak to six in a 4:05 game against the Seattle Mariners.

Pedroia felt pain his left knee Thursday night and was taken out of the game by manager John Farrell as a precaution. The rainy conditions and wet field were also factors in keeping the second baseman out Thursday and Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on the knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked various confrontations between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Left-hander Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make his second start of the season for Boston and right-handed reliever Ben Taylor was optioned to the PawSox. Right-hander Rob Whalen, 23,  comes up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his first start of the season for the Mariners. 

The lineups:

MARINERS
Jean Segura SS
Danny Valencia 1B
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Taylor Motter LF
Guillermo Heredia RF
Mike Zunino C
Jarrod Dyson CF
---
Rob Whalen RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Deven Marrero 3B
---
Brian Johnson LHP 

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners for their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third win in a row for Rodriguez (4-1), who gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.