3 Up, 3 Down: Sale strikes out 13, Thames goes deep again, Rangers and Royals duel for 13 innings

3 for today:

Chris Sale punches out lucky number

Sale started his fourth game in a Red Sox uniform on Thursday, and he continued his tremendous start to the season. He allowed four hits while striking out 13 Blue Jays and walking one across eight shutout innings. But his counterpart, Marco Estrada, was also fantastic; he struck out seven and gave up three hits over six shutout innings.

The scoreless tie was finally broken in the top of the ninth when Xander Bogaerts drove in Dustin Pedroia. This prompted manager John Farrell to pull Sale from the game after 102 pitches in favor of closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel proceeded to give up a lead-off, game-tying home run to Kendrys Morales. Was it the right move? I don’t know. Maybe not, but you’re simply exchanging one dominant pitcher for another. It’s not like Farrell brought in some Triple-A pitcher; he brought in Craig f’n Kimbrel. He just made a bad pitch.

Anyway, it didn’t end up mattering, as Mookie Betts lined a bases-loaded double down the line with two outs in the 10th to give Boston a 4-1 lead. And what do you know? Kimbrel retired the side in order in the bottom half of the inning to secure the victory.

Eric Thames adds to league-leading home run total

Thames is easily the best story of this young season. Before this year, he hadn’t played a major-league game since 2012. He made his debut in 2011, but he just couldn’t stick in the big leagues. So he headed to Korea, where he absolutely raked. Last year, he hit .321/.427/.679. The year before? .381/.497/.790. Basically, he morphed into Barry Bonds.

But teams are (rightfully) often filled with skepticism when a player puts up numbers like that in another country and heads to the majors. This allowed the Brewers to scoop him up on a low-risk 3-year, $16 million dollar deal this past offseason. Well, it’s safe to say that it’s paid off thus far. Thames hit his league-leading eighth homer today, and he’s now slashing an insane .415/.500/.981 on the year. It’s early, I know. But still, this is pretty cool.

Texas and Kansas City trade zeroes for 13

Probably the best pitcher’s duel of the season took place on Thursday. It was a game started by Danny Duffy of the Royals and Andrew Cashner of the Rangers. Duffy added to was again fantastic, tossing 7 1/3 masterful innings. He struck out five batters while walking three and giving up four hits.

Opposing Duffy was Cashner, who is hoping for a bounceback season and made his second start of the year on Thursday. Two starts into the year, and Texas couldn’t ask for much more. After 6 scoreless innings, Cashner has now allowed just three runs in 11 1/3 innings this year.

After Cashner left the game, Texas deployed a total of six pitchers, and all of them put up zeroes. The Royals, on the other hand, used only three pitchers thanks to Mike Minor tossing three scoreless innings. But something had to give at some point, and it finally did when Joey Gallo hit a one-out double off Travis Wood. Delino Deshields followed that by lining a single to left, which allowed Gallo to cross home plate, giving Texas a 1-0 win. 1-0 games really are a thing of beauty, especially when they’re of the 13-inning variety.

3 for tomorrow:

Mets vs. Nationals (deGrom vs. Roark)

The Mets and Nationals have quickly developed one of the game’s best rivalries, making every time they meet a must-watch. Tomorrow’s meeting will be no different, as Jacob deGrom, one of the most electric pitchers in baseball, and Tanner Roark, one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, face off.

White Sox vs. Indians (Quintana vs. Kluber)

Both Jose Quintana and Corey Kluber are off to rough starts, but they’re still the same pitchers they have been over the last few years. In other words, they’re still really good.

Rockies vs. Giants (Chatwood vs. Cueto)

This is just a great pitching matchup. The only problem is that it’s in Colorado. It could be a pitcher’s duel… or it could be a slugfest. That will be up to Coor’s Field to decide.

 

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