Tonight’s Yankees-Red Sox game was, for once, short—the shortest of my life. That was courtesy of a pitchers’ duel between Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Sale, in which both were excellent but in wholly different ways.
Sale was overpowering, with his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the year (That’s four out of five starts, and he had 7 Ks in the fifth one.) But between those 10 strikeouts were three runs off of eight hits, including three in the ninth inning before he was pulled without recording an out, and that was enough to seal a 3-0 loss for Boston. So far this year, Sale has found himself facing the same issue that he did with the White Sox—a consistent lack of run support. The Red Sox haven’t scored more than four runs in any of his starts, and they’ve scored two or fewer in three of the five.
Tanaka didn’t offer anything as intense as Sale’s strikeouts, but he achieved even better results by being hyper-efficient. He managed to finish four separate innings on fewer than 10 pitches each, but he was perhaps at his best in one of the other five—a brilliant sixth inning in which all 11 of his pitches went for strikes, resulting in two of his three strikeouts for the night. In all, he only allowed three baserunners over the course of nine innings, and he took only 97 pitches to do it. It was the second complete game shutout of his career and his first since 2014.
Offense has continually been something of a struggle for the Red Sox this year—still with fewer home runs than any team in baseball, missing the presence of David Ortiz, and now with three shutouts in their past seven games—but Tanaka was sharp enough to make them look their silliest.