BOSTON — Imagine if you will …
A team sets a franchise record for nine innings by striking out 21 times, ultimately whiffs 24 times and doesn’t draw its first walk until the 11th inning.
This tied a franchise record for any game, it was set earlier this season in an 18-inning loss at San Fransisco.
Now imagine that the team in question is the Rockies. And imagine further that Red Sox starter Chris Sale strikes out 17 batters over the first seven innings to set a career high.
Finally, imagine that the Rockies somehow took a 4-3 lead, lost the lead, and ultimately won the game 5-4 on Mark Reynolds’ RBI single off Ryan Brasier in the 11th to score Trevor Story.
The Twilight Zone? Nope, just a Tuesday night baseball game at frigid Fenway Park.
Charlie Blackmon’s two-run, eighth-inning home run stunned the Red Sox faithful and put Colorado ahead 4-3. Blackmon’s homer came off reliever Brandon Workman and drove in Chris Iannetta, who had reached on a double.
Blackmon’s homer, his ninth of the season, extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
But the lead didn’t hold. An error by Nolan Arenado opened the door to a Red Sox rally in the bottom of the eighth, with Mitch Moreland’s RBI single off Scott Oberg tying the game 4-4. Overall, however, Rockies relievers were excellent, giving up that single run over five innings, with closer Wade Davis eventually earning his seventh save.
Sale was magnificent. His 17 strikeouts tied Arizona’s Randy Johnson (April 21, 2002) for the most strikeouts for a starting pitcher against the Rockies in a single game in franchise history.
Sale’s one big mistake arrived in the seventh inning when Arenado connected on a 92 mph fastball for a two-run homer over the Green Monster, cutting Boston’s lead to 3-2. Story, who struck out in his first two at-bats vs. Sale, ignited the rally with a leadoff single through the left side.
The first inning provided a sneak peak of Sale’s night and the Rockies’ woes. Sale struck out Blackmon, Story and Arenado — the Rockies’ three most dangerous hitters. Sales’ second inning confirmed his dominance when he whiffed Reynolds, Raimel Tapia and Ian Desmond.
By the end of the third inning, Sale had eight strikeouts, and he took a perfect game into the fifth before Reynolds busted it up with a leadoff double.
In the sixth inning, Sale was simply untouchable, hanging the Rockies out to dry with strikeouts of Iannetta, Pat Valaika and Blackmon — all of them looking.
Sale finished off his night with strikeouts of Reynolds, Tapia and Desmond in the seventh inning. Those three punchouts came immediately after Arenado’s two-run homer.
Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland was torched by the longball again. He gave up solo home runs to Michael Chavis in the first and J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers in the third. Freeland has already given up 12 home runs in nine starts this season, after serving up only 17 in 33 starts last year.
Freeland, to his credit, settled down enough give Colorado a chance to win. He tossed six innings, allowing five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
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