Given the state of this team of late, you can imagine my reaction when I realized I was recapping a game where the opposing pitcher was Chris Sale. It feels the Phillies are at risk of getting destroyed by the most anemic of offenses and shut out by the most beleaguered pitchers. And neither Sale nor the Red Sox lineup qualify for those descriptions.
On the bump for the home crowd tonight was Nick Pivetta, our poor sweet Canadian boy who hasn’t made it past the 5th inning so far this year.
So I was just as surprised as anyone when he ended up going toe to toe with Sale into the 7th inning. Pivetta surrendered four hits, issued only two walks while striking out nine in an incredibly impressive outing. Sale was in excellent form too, also giving up four hits but striking out ten and only issuing one walk into the 8th.
As with most pitcher’s duels, there wasn’t a huge amount of action tonight. The Phillies managed a pair of excellent defensive plays to keep the game scoreless.
The top of the 2nd looked pretty grim for Pivetta, even though he picked up two strike outs. He managed to load the bases on a Mitch Moreland single, and walks issued to Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon. Chris Sale very well almost knocked in a run, but Howie Kendrick was able to make a great diving catch to prevent that from happening.
Things got even more dramatic in the Top of the 5th. Sandy Leon got aboard for the Red Sox with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch from Pivetta. With two out, a runner and scoring position, and Mookie Betts a the plate, things had a chance to slip away. But a single from Betts was turned into an out at home with a brilliant throw by Daniel Nava.
Chris Sale tried to do his own heavy lifting in the 8th, whacking at the first hit for a Red Sox pitcher in over a year for a leadoff double. Mookie Betts lined out to center, advancing Sale to third. Thankfully, though, Neshek was able to navigate out of the jam by striking out Dustin Pedroia (the Phillies’ 10th of the night!) and getting Xander Bogaerts to pop up.
Sale wasn’t so lucky at getting out of his own jam in the 8th. Andrew Knapp got himself on base with a single to left, and he was brought home by Ty Kelly of all people, who was pinch hitting for Pat Neshek.
Hector Neris closed out the game, and the Phillies improbably walked away from this matchup tonight with a win. The fact that they were able to do so against Chris Sale is exactly why baseball is so great, sometimes.