Chris Sale Gets 200 K’s (Again), Mookie Hits First Walk-Off Homer

Well, the Red Sox just avoided losing three straight in the most Red Sox way possible. And by that, I mean with big hits, even bigger moments of anxiety, and an epic walk-off win.

On a lovely summer Friday and #SaleDay, Chris Sale quickly reached 200 strikeouts by striking out the first three batters he faced in the top of the first inning. That makes six straight seasons with 200 or more, and it’s very likely that he’ll reach 300 before September is over. His ERA improved to 2.04 after tonight’s start: 6 scoreless innings and double-digit strikeouts again.

Oh, and Sale also set a new American League record as the fastest pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, needing just 136 innings to reach the milestone. The previous record-holder? Himself, last season. Sale beat the record he set last year by 5.1 innings. Should we just call the Cy Young race now, or?

Defensively, Steve Pearce made one of the most epic double-plays I’ve ever seen. The man literally laid down his life to get those outs, and it was a key moment in the game, preserving the Red Sox lead. Watch it and appreciate this midseason acquisition who is already so beloved by Red Sox Nation.

Steve Pearce after making a double-play (NESN)

On the offensive side, it was another homers-only kind of night. Making up for the three home runs we lost in that BS Orioles’ rainout on Wednesday, JBJ, Rafael Devers, and Mookie Betts each hit it big. JBJ made it 2-0 in the 5th, Devers hit the tying homer in the 9th, and Mookie walked it off in the best way in the 10th.

Before ending on a high note, I’ll state again that I firmly believe Dave Dombrowski needs another man in the bullpen. Joe Kelly has been in a terrible slump. Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes have improved, but are not reliable enough to quell my anxiety. After coming in to for the last out of the 8th inning, our closer Craig Kimbrel walked 3 of the batters he saw. He allowed a two-run double, giving the Twins the lead, and nearly blew the game. Tyler Thornburg shut down the side 1-2-3 in the 10th, but he and Ryan Brasier are brand-new, and it would help to not put so much pressure on them.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Red Sox continue to have the most wins in baseball. They’re 72-33 (no other team has more than 67), five games up on the Yankees, and their hitters are starting to fight back when the going gets tough. Seeing Devers and Mookie hit those late-inning homers was a big confidence boost for me. If this team isn’t taking a blown lead lying down anymore, the rest of MLB is in trouble. Most wins, best hitters, the best starting pitcher in baseball? IT’S A WORLD SERIES MOOD.

Photo: Sun Journal

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