BOSTON – (Staff Report) – In his 200th career start, Boston ace Chris Sale brought his best stuff for a joust against 45-year old Texas righty Bartolo Colon and the Red Sox extended their winning streak to nine games as Sale struck-out 12 batters and his teammates provided ample run support to post a 4-2 victory over the Rangers before 36, 920 at Fenway Park.
Sale went 7.0 innings for Boston, scattering six hits, walking one batter to go along with his dozen Ks. He threw 110 pitches with 80 for strikes before giving way to reliever Heath Hembree in the 8th inning. He earned the win, his 10th of the season.
Hembree struggled mightily and Boston manager Alex Cora was forced to go to his All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel to put out a bases-loaded brush fire in the 8th. Facing his first batter, Robinson Chirinos, Kimbrel walked-in a run which was charged to Hembree, but then struck-out the Rangers power-hitting left-fielder, Joey Gallo, to escape the inning. Gallo struck-out four times on the night while Texas’ No. 9 hitter, Ryan Rua, suffered the same 4-K fate.
Kimbrel returned with some fire power in the 9th when he struck-out the side to end the game and earn his 28th save of the season.
Colon pitched well for the Rangers, going 6.0 innings but allowing nine hits and four runs (three earned) while walking two and striking out three. He threw 96 pitches with 56 for strikes but took his seventh loss of the year (5-7).
Boston broke-open the game with a three-run 5th inning after Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez had consecutive hits, Martinez picking up from last evening’s double-fest by hitting a two-run/two-bagger. Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knocked in Martinez with a triple.
Boston posted its first run in the 2nd inning with Bogaerts scoring after he singled and the Rangers committed two errors.
Boston has swept each of its last three opponents with three game series wins at Washington and Kansas City and tonight’s sweep to finish off Texas.
GAME NOTES: Chris Sale has struck out 11+ while walking only one or zero batters in each of his last five starts, extending the longest such streak in major league history. … David Price (lefty), Rick Porcello (righty) and Eduardo Rodriguez (lefty) are set-up to pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays as they head to Boston for a four-game set, the last series before the annual MLB All-Star break. … Toronto had not decided their rotation as of game time on Wednesday, although MLB’s official site listed J.A. Happ (10-5) (lefty) as the starter vs. Price (9-6). … Mookie Betts was robbed of an infield hit in the 6th inning when a :42 instant replay review reversed a call on a SS to 2B force-out of catcher Sandy Leon. Betts was first given a 1B but it was changed to a fielder’s choice when the review went against the Red Sox.