The White Sox entered this game with a seven-game winning streak and their ace on the mound against a 30-year-old knuckleballer who had just five wins to his name. Moreover, Chris Sale started his night with a 2-0 lead, as Jose Abreu took Steven Wright deep for a two-run shot in the top of the first.
It had all the makings of an 8-0 road trip, a .500 record and a triumphant return to Chicago.
But because baseball is baseball, the Red Sox won this won in a rout.
Sale's night got off to a rough start, as Xander Bogaerts drilled him with a line drive off the leg two batters into the game. It ended worse, as Sale faced five batters in the sixth inning and failed to retire any of them. He departed giving up seven runs on a career-high 12 hits allowed, due to a combination of back luck and worse-than-usual control.
That sixth inning just about summed up his night. Sale and the White Sox only trailed 3-2, and Sale's stuff had some bite (seven strikeouts over five innings). Alas, Rusney Castillo started the inning with a swinging bunt single, which Sale couldn't pick up cleanly off the wet grass. He then plunked Josh Rutledge on the elbow.
Blake Swihart followed by hitting a line drive to short. Alexei Ramirez leaped, and if he came down with it, the White Sox might have been able to turn a triple play. Instead, it glanced off his glove into shallow left field to load the bases for the first of two lefties, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Sale got ahead on Bradley 0-2, only to leave a slider over the plate that Bradley smacked to center for an RBI single. The same thing happened with Brock Holt, except it was a 1-2 pitch that Holt shot through the right side to score two runs. That put the Red Sox ahead 6-2, and Matt Albers took over. A Bogaerts sac fly closed the book on Sale on put the game out of reach.
Sale's line score understates his control issues, because it says he walked only one batter. However, he plunked two more, and he also drilled Pablo Sandoval on the forearm with a fastball. Fortunately for Sale, Sandoval clearly swung at the pitch for strike three and a game-ending bruise.
Meanwhile, the Sox couldn't do much right against Wright after the first, hitting a lot of routine flyouts when they weren't striking out (Wright recorded a career-high eight K's). Adam Eaton had a nice day, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, but the rest of the lineup petered out. The Red Sox finally solved Melky Cabrera, giving him a silver sombrero (albeit with one walk). Carlos Sanchez's 12-game hitting streak also came to an end with an 0-for-4, two-strikeout night.
*Sale's line also could've been worse had Cabrera and J.B. Shuck not gunned down a pair of runners at second base to end the second and third innings.
*This is just about the only way a 7-1 road trip could feel disappointing.
*The start of the game was delayed by 51 minutes due to rain, and it drizzled a couple times during.