Boston Red Sox

Sox shrug off rain, Athletics, 9-3

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Sox shrug off rain, Athletics, 9-3

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON The Red Sox and As played just seven innings of their hurricane-induced doubleheader before rain delayed play. They resumed play just long enough for the Sox to take a 9-3 win.

Jon Lester earned the victory, improving to 14-6, with a 3.09 ERA. He went six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He also improved his career record against Oakland to 3-3. The As were one of just two American League teams (with the Twins) against which Lester had a losing record.

The Sox put runs on the board in each of the first five innings, including three runs in the second and third innings. Jason Varitek, who had a two-run homer in the second and an RBI single in the fifth, fell one RBI short of his season high, which he set with four in Toronto on June 11.

David Ortiz went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Guillermo Moscoso took the loss for the As, falling to 6-8 with a 3.80 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
Lester went six innings, before a 45-minute rain delay at the start of the seventh inning, the first of two delays before the game was called. He gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts, and one home run to Brandon Allen. It was Lesters third consecutive win. He has given up just three hits in each, while going seven, six, and six innings, respectively. With the win, Lester improved his career record against Oakland to 3-3. The As were one of just two American League teams (with the Twins) against which Lester had a losing record.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jason Varitek
Varitek went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. In the three-run second inning, he hit his ninth home run of the season, a two-out, two-run shot into the Sox bullpen, scoring Josh Reddick, who had walked. Varitek added an RBI single. His three RBI are one short of his season-high four, which he recorded on June 11 in Toronto.

THE GOAT: Guillermo Moscoso
The As right-hander lasted just four innings, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits and two walks, with no strikeouts, and one home run. He allowed the Sox to score in each of his four innings, including three runs in the second and third. After the As tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the second, Moscoso allowed the Sox three runs in the bottom of the inning, all with two outs, giving his team a whole it couldnt escape. The outing is his shortest of the season.

THE TURNING POINT
With the score tied, 1-1, entering the home half of the second inning, the Sox scored three runs, creating an insurmountable deficit for the As. With two outs, Josh Reddick walked before Jason Variteks ninth home run of the season, into the Sox bullpen. Mike Aviles singled and scored on Jacoby Ellsburys double.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1
The Sox win, combined with a hurricane-induced off-day for the Yankees, the Sox take a 1 -game lead over the Yankees heading into their three-game set beginning Tuesday at Fenway.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I dont think theres any way we would do anything different in the first game. I mean, if we have a chance to win a game, youre going to see Bard and Pap. I dont care if its snowing. Thats whats going to happen. If were losing well try tono, theres no reason to try to do anything different. If were losing, you try to stay away from the guys you want to pitch when you're winning. -- Terry Francona on his approach to managing a doubleheader with impending weather issues

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.

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

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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.