It’s not often that you get a baseball game in April that’s as fun and as exciting as the one played between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox in the Windy City last night. It’s not often that you get a hockey game that goes to triple overtime, either, but on the night of April 17th, the world got both, and it was awesome.
The Sox and the Sox had split the first two games of the series, with Chicago taking the first game in near-freezing temperatures, and Boston taking the second game in 14 innings. Neither game was one you could really consider “well played” or “well pitched,” with the Red Sox walking 15 times in the 14 inning affair, but the third game had “pitcher’s duel” written all over it days in advance when the starters were announced. Jon Lester vs. Chris Sale. Two great southpaws who have been pitching really well right out of the gate. In this game, they continued to pitch really well right out of the gate.
Sale is a great young pitcher playing on a team that hasn’t been good in a few years. Last year he won the All-Star Game for the American League. Lester is a seasoned veteran with two World Series rings in a contract year. He’s shown us time and again that he’s as good as any pitcher in the game in October, but the Red Sox gave him a low-ball offer this week. He wants to be in Boston for life, but he also wants to prove he’s worth what he thinks he’s worth. So far, he’s been excellent, even if his run support hasn’t.
Through the first five innings, neither team recorded a hit, and Jon Lester did not allow a base runner. Lester threw a no-hitter for the Red Sox in 2008, and has flirted with a perfect game before, but it had always been broken up, as no-hit and perfect game attempts usually do. Lester ultimately gave up hits, and allowed a run, but he stayed in the game through the bottom of the 8th inning, which was long enough to earn a win. He had to pitch that well because Chris Sale wasn’t going to let up, either.
Sale’s no-hitter was broken up by a solo home run by Xander Bogaerts. It was Xander’s first dinger of the year, and it was a bomb. It had been an up-and-down series for the 21 year old rookie. His throwing error cost the Red Sox the first game, he reached base five times and had his first RBI of the season in the second game, and he had his first off field controversy resulting in the deletion of his Twitter account after the second game. He appears to be learning from his mistakes and not dwelling on them. Whatever problems he had were behind him with that swing. The best of the best don’t let what’s happening in their personal lives get in the way of their performance on the field. Manny Ramirez was one of the best at leaving his baggage in the clubhouse when he stepped on the field, and Miguel Cabrera is another guy who can do that really well. Bogaerts is showing us that he can be a guy like that for this team, and if he bulks up a bit, it’s not an exaggeration to say that he could very well be the next Miguel Cabrera.
The Red Sox appear to be turning things around. The pitching has been great and Bradley and Bogaerts have been only getting better.