It didn't take long for Chris Sale to get back on track. The Red Sox ace had an uncharacteristically poor outing in his last start against Cleveland, giving up seven runs in a no-decision, but last night against the Tampa Bay Rays Sale was in full command, pitching eight shut-out innings and striking out 13 in Boston's 2-0 win.
The lanky lefty gave up just two hits on the night, and the only real question was whether the Red Sox offense would give him anything more to work with than the 1-0 lead they grabbed in the fourth when Dustin Pedroia scored on a fielder's choice. It stayed that way until the top of the 9th when Jackie Bradley Jr. finally added some insurance with an RBI single, and the win was locked down in the bottom of the frame when Craig Kimbrel came on to notch his 28th save of the season, striking out the side in the process.
The Red Sox have now won seven in a row, their longest winning streak of the season, and they also increased their lead for first place in the A.L. east over the NY Yankees to four games, with the Toronto Blue Jays doing the Red Sox a favor by beating the Yankees 4-2 at the Rogers Centre last night.
All the runs for Toronto came courtesy of Josh Donaldson, who homered twice, both two-run blasts, and J.A. Happ won his sixth start in a row for Toronto, allowing just one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. Happ likes pitching against the Yankees, apparently. He's 6-0 in starts against New York going back to 2014.
And there was more bad news for the Yankees as starter CC Sabathia had to come out of the game in the third inning after giving up the second of those two-run homers to Donaldson, the lefty starter saying he felt some discomfort in his knee. He'll be evaluated back in New York today to find out the extent of the damage. Garrett Cooper drove in the two Yankee runs on a single and a sac fly, and rookie phenom Aaron Judge, as good as he's been this season with 35 home runs on the year, struck out twice in the game on an 0 for 2 night, and now holds a Yankee franchise record he would rather not, whiffing in 25 consecutive games, the longest strike-out streak in Yankee history.
The NY Mets halted their four-game losing skid and rookie starter Chris Flexen picked up his first big league win as the Mets held on to beat the Texas Rangers 5-4 at Citi Field last night. The Mets jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two innings on home runs by Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud. Flexen went five and two thirds, giving up three runs on four hits, and also doubled to help his own cause, his first major league hit to go with his first win as a pitcher in The Show.
The Vermont Lake Monsters won a tight contest against the Batavia Muckdogs at Centennial Field last night, winning 2-1 on runs scored in the first and ninth innings, both by Kevin Merrell, who homered in the first and scored on a walk-off double in the 9th.
The Essex Junction little league all-stars are moving on to play Maine in the New England regional tournament, after beating another neighbor, Massachusetts, 7-5 yesterday. The 11 and 12 year old all-stars jumped out to a 7-0 lead and held on for the victory, the winning runs coming off a double by Tanner McFaul, who drove the ball to the gap in the third inning and after hitting second, took off for third, which drew an errant throw to the bag. McFaul then scampered home and scored on a close play at the plate.
The state champion Essex Junction squad takes on Maine tomorrow, a game that will be televised on ESPN.