When the Boston Red Sox finished the Orioles on Sunday, it did not take a complicated analysis to show just how big the gap between first and last place in the American League East is.
The Red Sox completed a four-game loop of the O with a 4-1 win ahead of an announced Camden Yards crowd of 25,303, which in turn shows why they are so easily the most successful team in the big leagues.
Left-hander Chris Sale, who is clearly the best thrower in the sport at the moment, showed why there is no percentage to discuss this point. He beat 12 Orioles in five innings and was on pace to set the major league record for strikeouts in a single game (20) when he was pulled off the hill to protect his golden arm.
He was about as merciless as you can play without a no-hitter, gave up only one single and did not go on his way to his twelfth victory. With the 12 strikeouts, he again took over the lead in the Major League in this category with 219, until Max Scherzer began against the Cubs on Sunday night. The five scoreless innings dropped Sale's ERA to 1.97, leading the American League.
"Sale has taken it to another level," said manager Buck Showalter. The first fastball he threw today was 98. The second was 99. He threw a change to 88 and 90. That did not seem fair. "
The only thing that prevented Sale from selling the Orioles at a record pace was a bit of caution on the part of Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The sale made his first start ever since he had walked on the 10-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. So it made perfect sense to remove him after throwing only 68 boxes.
"He was a bit on the DL and he came out fresh," said shortstop Tim Beckham. "He was sharp, man, he was sharp, if he wanted, he would hit the black card with the black ball and he would hit 99 whenever he wanted.Whenever you are confronted with Sale, you just want to attack the thugs and quality at-bats, and good things will come out of it. We could not put it together today. "
The only Orioles who could safely compete against him was Renato Núñez, who marked a single to left field in the fourth inning.
The sale was so dominant in its last seven starts that its 0.20 ERA in that time period – according to @ MLBStat of the day – is the lowest of a Red Sox pitcher since seven starts since statistics in 1913.
In the meantime, Orioles starter Alex Cobb (3-15) is still doing well and is always beaten with a few exceptions. He hit seven strong innings, allowing only two runs (one earned) on six hits and striked seven. The effort could have faded away from Sale's, but it was the third time in a row that Cobb made at least six innings and allowed only one earned run.
"The results are good," Cobb said. "I'm very happy with the way the line looks after these games, but there are a lot of things that look at the game of pitching and mistakes that you could get through here and there, one of which You know that they are not sustainable in the course of a season or just a long distance.
"I miss a lot of things that I'm not likely to say in the media, there are things that I can get better at, that will be the fine tuning part, and once I understand that, I can not say that the results are better but I'll feel better about what I'm doing. "
His only real mistake was the field that former Oriole Steve Pearce had beaten in the first inning over the left field fence. The other Red Sox run came in the fourth inning, when Brock Holt from first base scored the first goal on a lightly hit flyball double by JD Martinez that Adam Jones popped for a mistake.
The Orioles scored in the eighth inning, when rookie Cedric Mullins started with an infield single, advancing on a single by Jonathan Villar and a walk by Jones. Trey Mancini had a chance to turn the game around in one fell swoop, but his midway sacrifice was just good enough to hit Mullins from third.
This eventually brought a bit of intrigue until Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts delivered RBI hits one after the other in the ninth round, in order to remove the heat from the Red Sox bullpen.
Read more about columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog "Jewelery Stops Here" on baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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