– Sale Strikes-Out 11 Blue Jays in Seven Innings –
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
TORONTO — Chris Sale has been dominant everywhere he pitches. It just seems that when the Boston Red Sox left-hander pitches at the Rogers Centre, he is just a little more so. Sale struck out 11 over seven scoreless innings on Saturday, while Xander Bogaerts had three RBIs in a 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia added two-run doubles for Boston.
It was Sale’s 11th start this season with 10 or more strikeouts. His season-best 13 strikeouts came at the Rogers Centre on April 20, although he did not factor in the decision, a game Boston won in 10 innings.
“He’s been really good here (in Toronto),” Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina said. “He did a great job and he saved the bullpen too. The big RBIs in the first two innings kind of quieted the crowd down a little bit. It was a playoff atmosphere from the very beginning.
“Those are pretty good hitters over there that the Blue Jays are throwing out in that lineup. For him to do that not just once but in two games against them is very, very impressive.”
Sale allowed four hits, one walk and hit two batters in winning his third straight decision to improve his record to 11-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.61.
“He’s got a great arm,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got a good changeup and he’s got a great slider and he’s tough to pick up, he hides it, so there’s some deception on that. In the past he was hard, hard, hard, come at you all the time. Now he pitches a little bit, he changes speeds quite a bit. He’s pretty tough.”
Steve Pearce homered for the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox (46-35) have won the first two games of the series and the Blue Jays (37-43) will try to avoid the sweep in the finale on Sunday.
Blue Jays starter Francisco Liriano (4-4) allowed seven hits, three walks and five runs in six innings. The left-hander struck out four.
“Physically I felt great,” Liriano said. “A couple of mistakes. They scored early. I didn’t make pitches when I needed to. No matter what happened in the first couple of innings I always try to stay focused and try to go out there and compete no matter what the score is. Try to make good pitches and finish it up better, try to keep the team in the game and anything can happen.”
The Red Sox scored twice in the first on a two-run double by Bradley that increased his hit streak to five games. It scored Mookie Betts, who led off with a walk, and Hanley Ramirez, who extended his hit streak to six games with a double.
“It’s huge,” Sale said. “I haven’t even thrown a competitive pitch and I’ve got a two-run lead.”
Pedroia hit a two-run double in the second inning to put Boston ahead 4-0. It scored Deven Marrero, who singled with two out to extend his hitting streak to five games, and Betts, who walked.
“(Sale) has been unbelievable to play behind,” Pedroia said. “He’s been great, man. His attitude, the way he prepares. We’re pretty excited to have him.”
Betts led off the fifth with his third walk of the game, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bogaerts.
The Blue Jays had runners at second and third with one out in the sixth after Russell Martin was hit by a pitch and Justin Smoak doubled off the left-field wall. Troy Tulowitzki grounded out to the pitcher and Pearce popped out to third to end the inning.
“(Consistency) is the goal for a starting pitcher, try to get as deep into the games as you can,” Sale said. “You talk about repeating mechanics and just keeping your team in the game.”
Lucas Harrell replaced Liriano and pitched a perfect seventh and overcame two singles and a wild pitch in the eighth.
Blaine Boyer replaced Sale in the eighth. He hit Martin with a pitch, the second time in the game the Toronto catcher was plunked, and struck out Josh Donaldson, the fourth whiff of the game for the Toronto third baseman, who was used at designated hitter on Saturday.
Boyer ended the inning on Smoak’s popout to second and Tulowitzki’s foul out to first.
Bogaerts had a two-run single against Harrell in the ninth, the third hit of the inning for the Red Sox. Jeff Beliveau replaced Harrell to get the final out of the inning, striking out Bradley.
Pearce led off the bottom of the ninth with his sixth home run of the season against Robby Scott.
NOTES: Red Sox manager John Farrell was not with the team Saturday. He was in Kansas City to watch his son RHP Luke Farrell make his major league debut for the Royals in the first game of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. He will return to Toronto for the game Sunday. Bench coach Gary DiSarcina ran the team in his absence. … Toronto recalled RHP Lucas Harrell from Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday and designated OF Ian Parmley for assignment. … Boston LHP Drew Pomeranz (7-4, 3.81 ERA) opposes Toronto RHP Joe Biagini (2-7, 4.50 ERA) Sunday in the series finale. … Attendance Saturday at the Rogers Centre on Canada Day was 46,672, the Blue Jays’ eighth sellout of the season.