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For The Record

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 34

Red Sox 9, Rangers 4

There was an extra buzz heading into my next game.  I was excited to see Chris Sale, only the second time I’ve gotten to see him this season.  He had struck out at least 10 batters in each of his past eight games, a major league record he shares with Pedro Martinez.  If he could repeat that feat again tonight, he’d set a new record.  And starting with a 10-run ninth inning earlier in the month, the offense had finally started scoring runs when he was pitching.  I was also happy that it was a sunny day, making it my warmest game of the year.  (Game time temp was announced at 59°, but it felt warmer.  I had a jacket for later, but I finally didn’t need all the winter accessories.)

Sale Day is always a fun day at Fenway.

Sale Day is always a fun day at Fenway.

It was also the major league debut of first base prospect Sam Travis.  He was called up for a few days as the Sox swapped fifth starters, and would provide a day off for Mitch Moreland, who had played in almost every game because Hanley Ramirez’s injuries prevented him from playing in the field.

Sam Travis made his major league debut at first base.

Sam Travis made his major league debut at first base. He got his first hit in the fifth inning, and ended up 2-for-4.

Sale started off by striking out the leadoff batter.  But when the next batter grounded out to third on the first pitch, everyone groaned.  Even though it would keep his pitch count low, we wanted a 10-K game.  The third batter hit a fly to right to complete a quick, efficient inning, but Sale still had nine strikeouts to go.  He did get two K’s in the second but only one more in the third.  He was perfect through the first three innings, but only had four strikeouts.

It was a beautiful night in the front row of Section 34. It was warmer at this night game than it had been at my last day game, ten days ago.

It was a beautiful night in the front row of Section 34. It was warmer at this night game than it had been at my last day game, ten days ago.

In the bottom of the third, the Red Sox accomplished that rarest of feats – they scored a run in a Chris Sale game.  Deven Marrero singled and stole second, and then Mookie Betts drove him in with a single.

Deven Marrero takes off from second on Mookie Betts' hit, to score the first run of the game.

Deven Marrero takes off from second on Mookie Betts' hit, on his way to score the first run of the game.

But that’s all the Sox would get in the inning, and then in the fourth the Rangers tied it up with a cheesy little run on a walk, passed ball, groundout, and sac fly.  There were no K’s in the inning – “That’s why it’s a record,” said the woman next to me, as the realization set in that he wasn’t going to get to ten – but Sale had something better going, as he had completed four innings without giving up a hit.

Chris Sale strikes out Mike Napoli in the second.

Chris Sale follows through after striking out Mike Napoli in the second.

“Old friend” Mike Napoli got a nice hand when the lineups were announced, when he came to bat the first time, and when he struck out in the second.  He even helped us further by dropping a foul pop fly for an error in the fourth, even though it didn’t end up amounting to anything.  But when he broke up the no-hitter by launching one of his trademarked homers over the Green Monster in the fifth to give the Rangers the lead, I wrote in my scorecard, “Nap’s not my friend anymore.”  They tacked on another run that inning, too, putting the Sox down 3-1.

Mookie tracks down a fly ball.

Mookie tracks down a fly ball.

Texas pitcher Martin Perez was already over 100 pitches when he came out to start the seventh inning.  After getting one quick out, he gave up two singles and was lifted from the game.  (One of the hits was Sam Travis’s second of the game – and of his career.)  The new pitcher was greeted by pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland (in for Sandy Leon), who singled to drive in a run, and pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge (in for Marrero), who drove in the tying run.  After Mookie was intentionally walked, a wild pitch scored the go-ahead run, and then Dustin Pedroia knocked in two more.  Xander Bogaerts followed with a double, and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked.  Chris Young’s bases-loaded walk pushed another run across, and Andrew Benintendi’s sac fly plated the seventh run of the inning.  (Once the Sox had taken the lead and Napoli dropped another foul popup for an error, I wrote, “OK, he’s my friend again.”)  When it was all said and done, the Sox had sent 12 men to the plate, scored seven runs, and now led 8-3.

Mitch Moreland came in to pinch-hit, and promptly drove in a run.

Mitch Moreland came in to pinch-hit, and promptly drove in a run.

Mookie scores the fifth run of the inning on Pedey's hit.

Mookie scores the fifth run of the inning on Pedey's hit.

Andrew Benintendi had a single and a sac fly in the seventh inning.

Andrew Benintendi had a single and a sac fly in the seventh inning.

Sale came back out for the eighth, and got one out before allowing another run on four hits.  He finished with “only” six strikeouts, so it wouldn’t be a record ninth straight 10-K game, but the important thing was that he was lined up for the win.

Sale got a standing ovation as he came out of the game int he eighth.

Sale got a standing ovation as he came out of the game in the eighth.

Joe Kelly pitched the final inning and two-thirds to seal the win, and I finally got to see “Win, Dance, Repeat” again.

May 24, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • Share on Facebook

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