If you are a fan of pitching duels, last night's rubber match between the Red Sox and White Sox in Chicago was not for you. The Red Sox's 23-year-old starting pitcher, Henry Owens, walked a career-high six batters in three innings of work, while only throwing 31 of his 64 pitches for strikes. In the fourth inning, with no outs, Red Sox skipper John Farrell finally pulled Owens after he surrendered his final walk of the outing. While Owens only allowed two hits, he could not consistently hit the strike zone. Farrell turned to Heath Hembree, who also couldn't find the strike zone to save his life. In 1.1 innings of work, Hembree surrendered one earned run, while allowing five hits and two walks.
Shortly thereafter, Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa and Robbie Ross Jr. mowed down the White Sox's lineup, pitching 4.2 scoreless innings while only allowing one hit and striking out six. In what seems to be a common theme, the Red Sox's offense, which quickly ignited from the newfound power of Hanley Ramirez (3), Dustin Pedroia (4), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (2) and a stout Boston bullpen propelled the Red Sox to a 7-3 crucial series-clinching win.
For the White Sox, it was just one of those games where nothing went right. While they did muster up nine walks from Red Sox pitching, not one of those runners came across the plate to score. On the mound, Erik Johnson could only pitch five innings before being chased out of the game. While the White Sox were white-hot (see what I did there?) coming into the series, one could make the case that Chicago should have been swept by the Red Sox if they could have given Steven Wright some run support. Moving forward, the White Sox need to right the ship and beat up on a TERRIBLE Minnesota Twins team this weekend.
Next up, the Red Sox take on the lowly New York Yankees, who currently sit 9-17 and are in the basement of the AL East. This series could propel the Red Sox into the conversation as one of the best teams in the American League if they are able to succeed.
Be on the lookout for a preview of tonight's game later on today.