(The Associated Press)
WP: Joe Kelly (1-0) LP: Antonio Bastardo (0-1)
Red Sox Nation was treated to a dose of a good ol' pitcher's duel tonight, as nine innings weren't enough to decide this one. Tonight's 3:53 game lasted 11 1/2 innings without a run crossing the plate before Sandy Leon came through with a 1-out walk-off 3 run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning, to produce the only 3 runs on the scoreboard tonight, in a Red Sox 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But tonight's game, despite the lack of offense, was still an exciting one to watch, as Red Sox Nation was given a sneak peak of just what kind of pitcher Chris Sale is going to be for them in the 2017 season. And if his Sox debut is any indication, we are in for something special. Sale dazzled tonight, going 7 shutout innings, allows no runs on just three hits, walking one and fanning seven. He even worked around an error in his final inning of work tonight, as his pitch count reached upwards of 100 pitches.
Sale had great command and velocity all night. Reaching as high as 99 MPH on the gun with his fastball, and of course his devastating slider was on point as well. In fact, one of those sliders was so filthy that he got Starling Marte to strike out on it, and the ball landed in the batter's box he was standing in.
Once Sale left, it was up to the Red Sox bullpen, which had most Red Sox fans nervous. We saw Barnes, Kimbrel, Hembree, Scott, and Kelly combine to go 5 innings and allow just 2 hits, and allowing no runs as well, giving the Sox every opportunity to put the game away.
However, it took until the 12th inning, before Sandy Leon (3-5) blasted a 3 run homer over the monster seats, ending the game, and giving the Red Sox a series win to open up the season. Leon, upon completion of tonight's game, has been the best hitter out of the gate for Boston, at 5-8 (.625) with a home run and 3 RBI.
The Sox go for the sweep tomorrow when Eduardo Rodriguez squares off against a desperate Pirates team, who doesn't want to open the season getting swept. First pitch is at 1:35 PM ET.