Following a day off after Opening Day, the Boston Red Sox were back at Fenway Park to play the PIttsburgh Pirates and starter Jameson Taillon. Chris Sale made his Red Sox debut after being acquired this offseason in exchange for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz.
While Sale cruised through his first three frames, allowing two singles and striking out four, his counterpart hit a minor speed bump in the bottom of the third. After Sandy Leon hit a two-out double past first baseman Josh Bell and down the right field line. Dustin Pedroia then got a first-pitch base hit into right field, bringing the possible first run home. However, Andrew McCutchen cut down Leon – who ran through a stop sign from third base coach Brian Butterfield – at the plate with an excellent throw to end the inning and hold the score even at 0-0.
Chris Young, who was playing in place of an ill Mookie Betts, led off the bottom of the fifth with Taillon’s second walk of the night, and then advanced to third base on a Jackie Bradley Jr. single through the right side of the infield. However, Taillon was able to escape the jam by striking out Pablo Sandoval and Sandy Leon, then inducing a weak comeback grounder by Dustin Pedroia to end the threat and keep the game scoreless.
Sale was replaced in the eighth inning by Matt Barnes after delivering seven shutout innings. The lefty allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out seven in his impressive debut for the Red Sox.
Taillon also tossed seven scoreless innings, though he allowed five hits and three walks. He was able to avoid any damage thanks to the out at home plate, two double plays, and six strikeouts. The right-hander gave way to fellow righty Daniel Hudson.
Following a clean eighth inning for both Barnes and Hudson, Craig Kimbrel made his second appearance of the season in a non-save situation. The closer struggled mightily last season in as he posted a 5.16 ERA in these spots (compared to a 2.41 ERA in save situations).
Things got off to a rocky start for Kimbrel when Pablo Sandoval committed his second error of the season, allowing Jordy Mercer to make it to first base. After inducing a pop out in foul territory, Kimbrel was the beneficiary of a fantastic diving stop by Pedroia on a hard-hit grounder by McCutchen. The second baseman delivered a clean throw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts for the second out of the inning, but McCutchen was able to beat out the double play attempt. A weak Gregory Polanco grounder to Pedroia ended the Pirates’ threat.
After Felipe Rivero tossed a perfect bottom of the ninth, Red Sox skipper John Farrell turned to righty Heath Hembree to begin the 10th inning. Hembree surrendered a one-out single off the Green Monster to Francisco Cervelli, then retired Josh Harrison on a pop up to Pedroia.
Left-handed closer Tony Watson was called upon for a non-save situation of his own in the bottom of the 10th. After Chris Young grounded out to short, Jackie Bradley Jr. slapped a line drive into left field for a single. Sandoval followed the single with his second strikeout of the night. However, Sandy Leon stroked an opposite field single of his own, moving Bradley and the winning run to third base with two outs. Watson then pitched around Pedroia, walking the second baseman and bringing up rookie Andrew Benintendi with the bases juiced. The Pirates closer was able to escape unscathed though, as Benintendi hit a soft grounder to second base, ending the 10th inning
The Red Sox called upon Joe Kelly to pitch both the 11th and 12th innings, and the righty delivered two scoreless. Juan Nicasio pitched a scoreless 11th for the Pirates, and then manager Clint Hurdle turned to left-hander Antonio Bastardo.
After retiring Chris Young on a loud fly to center, Bastardo gave a free pass to Jackie Bradley Jr. on five pitches. A pickoff attempt caught Bradley in a long lead and the center fielder dashed to second base, making it safely after the throw from first baseman Phil Gosselin got away from shortstop Jordy Mercer. Pablo Sandoval then worked a walk after Nicasio loaded the count.
Sandy Leon then strutted to the plate, looking to atone for his baserunning gaffe, and did – by launching a three-run walk-off home run into the Monster Seats to cap off the 12th inning.
The Red Sox are now 2-0 and were scheduled face the Pirates again this afternoon with lefty Eduardo Rodriguez facing off against the right-handed Chad Kuhl, but the game has been postponed due to the weather.