The unveiling of Chris Sale was everything as advertised, but the bats didn’t do the prized offseason acquisition any favors.
“I get nervous before every game,” Sale said. “Tonight was a little bit different [because] obviously it’s my first time pitching here in the home whites. Running out of the first base dugout is pretty awesome. It was special. I appreciated it, too. I tried to go through my routine and do everything I normally do but also soak it all in.”
Sale hurled 7.0 innings, allowed three hits and struck out seven, but gave way to Matt Barnes in the top of the eighth with the score at 0-0.
The soutpaw’s first pitch of the night was clocked at 96.3 miles per hours before he reared back and hit 98.4 two pitches later.
Four of Sale’s seven punch-outs game via his slider, which was arguably his best option all night.
“He was nasty,” catcher Sandy Leon said. “It’s really fun to catch him. He was mixing every pitch, he was getting ahead in the count.”
Leon continues to dazzle
Leon knows a thing or two about hot starts. Last season, he was scorching opposing pitchers as he was 20 of 40 out of the gate when he was called up in June.
Through the first two games, the veteran backstop is 5 of 8 with two runs scored.
His biggest hit came last night when Leon sent the Pittsburgh Pirates packing with a 3-run walk-off home run.
“The pitch was right in the middle so I put a good swing on it and it was a homer,” Leon said of the first career walk-off.
Sandoval continues his struggles
It is tough to look past Pablo Sandoval’s inability at the dish and in the field.
After making one error in 42 total chances at third base in Spring Training, he has made two in through a pair of games thus far.
He almost had a third on a softball dribbler in extra innings when he nearly bobbled the ball right out of his glove.
After hitting .338 with five home runs and 20 driven in this spring, Sandoval has started 1 of 8, but did have the Red Sox first RBI of the season.
Bullpen pulls through
So far, so good with the relievers.
Last night was a true test for the ‘pen after Sale exited in the seventh and the game went into the 12th. Matt Barnes, Craig Kimbrel, Heath Hembree, Robby Scott and Joe Kelly combined to hurl 5.0 innings of two-hit shutout baseball.
Flu bug continues to go around
The Red Sox have been bitten by the flu bug, which kept Mookie Betts, who was in the building to receive his Gold Glove Award, out of the lineup yesterday and kept Brock Holt and Robbie Ross Jr. home. All were feeling flue-like symptoms.
The Red Sox and Pirates three-game finale has been postponed to April 13 at 2:05 p.m. due to rain.
Boston will hit the road for a four-game set against Detroit.
Probable pitching matchups and game times:
Friday at 1:10 p.m. – Steven Wright (0-0, 0.00) vs. Michael Fulmer (0-0, 0.00)
Saturday at 1:10 p.m. – Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 0.00)
Sunday at 1:10 p.m. – Rick Porcello (1-0, 4.26) vs. Daniel Norris (0-0, 0.00)
Monday at 1:10 p.m. – Chris Sale (0-0, 0.00) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 2.84)