It takes a lot to take the focus of a Chris Sale Day--now a branded event---off of Chris Sale. In this case, Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn wrested the focus way with over 770 feet of damage and five RBI generated from their two home runs, both on 0-2 counts to power the Sox to a 7-6 victory, and a two-game sweep from the team hosting the best record in baseball.
Abreu's two-run humpback line-drive on a hanging curve in the first, Dunn's three-run bomb in the fifth, and Tyler Flowers' poked two-run single with the bases loaded in the fourth all provided the damage on a huge offensive day against Giants' starter Tim Hudson (who came into the game with a sub-2.00 ERA). But despite stretching out to a 7-2 advantage, the Sox barely hung on even with their ace at work.
Sale watched his best stuff ebb away progressively. Five of his first seven outs recorded came on swinging strikeouts, but he finished with just two more punchouts in six-plus innings. He escaped from a bases loaded situation in the third, but was peppered for two runs on three-straight hits from the middle of the order in the fifth, and had over 100 pitches before coming out for the seventh.
When Robin Ventura tried to squeeze out one more inning from Sale, a leadoff single and his first walk of the day chased him without an out in the seventh, and he finished the day with the bare minimum for a quality start (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 7 K, BB). A big bases loaded strikeout of Michael Morse by Jake Petricka kept a seemingly comfortable 7-3 lead going until the eighth. But a rare rough outing for Zach Putnam, and Scott Downs giving up an RBI double to Gregor Blanco forced Ventura to turn his closer with only one out in the eighth.
Ronald Belisario was able to get two groundouts after entering with runners on second and third, and went to the ninth with a 7-5 lead to preserve. Two hits from Pablo Sandoval and Morse to leadoff put Belisario on the brink of disaster once more. After striking out Hector Sanchez, the sinkerballer sealed the day with two flyouts for his seventh save.
The Sox roughed up Tim Hudson something fierce (4.2 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, BB, 0 K, 2 HR), but they failed to put another man on base against the Giants bullpen. Nevertheless, it was the most offense generated during a Sale start in two months, and he's now more than halfway to his 2013 win total.
Team Record: 35-37
Next Game: Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT at Minnesota on CSN
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