It's as if the baseball gods finally decided to throw Red Sox fans a bone. The game last night was everything we fans needed, all set out nicely in order.
Right from the start. Literally. The first pitch of the game was a 95 MPH fastball from Chris Sale. While not quite 97 or 99, it was a great sign that maybe he did have his velocity. Of course, he then struck out McCutchen on one of his nasty sliders. Sale had arrived. He went on to strike out the side (mixing in a walk) including Judge and Stanton. What more can you ask for?
How about three guys reaching in the bottom of the first against supposed Red Sox killer J.A. Happ. How about the third guy, hitting a three run home run? One way to settle down the pitching staff is to give them a three run cushion almost immediately. It reminded me of David Ortiz homering in the first inning of Game 7 in the 2004 ALCS. It was an immediate statement proving that clutch home runs aren't always hit in the ninth inning. It reversed the narrative before it could get started. It's actually hard to overestimate just how important that home run was.
And it kept getting better.
The Sox scored two more off Happ after knocking him out of the game and Sale kept cruising into the sixth. Mookie got in on the fun, adding a hit and scoring a run. When you're looking to erase past poor playoff performances, it's nice to start eliminating zeroes. The same goes for Bogaerts who also went 1-3 with an RBI. Things are already different for the Sox offense than feared.
From there, the Red Sox bullpen did its job and held the lead. Even Rick Porcello of all people helped out getting the lead to Kimbrel. After getting four outs, a strikeout ended the game and gave the Sox the win.
So, if you're scoring at home, Sale...the Red Sox starting pitcher...got a playoff win. Rick Porcello pitched in a playoff win. The Red Sox slugged the ball. The Red Sox had an answer for Happ. The Bullpen held a lead.
I really don't think there could have been a better outcome from a single game.
At least until David Price goes out and dominates tonight!
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