Game 16: Red Sox at White Sox - Lester looks to 'Sale' past Chicago, give Boston series victory

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

No, the headline didn't misspell "sail." Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox take on Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox in the rubber game of the series in Chicago tonight. The Red Sox earned a 14-inning win, thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. two-out, two-run double, to even the series at one game apiece. Now, the two ace left-handers will square off in a pivotal game for Boston.

Lester has pitched brilliantly this season. He picked up his first win in his most recent start against the Yankees. Lester has pitched at least 6 2/3 innings in each of his three starts and struck out at least six batters while allowing two earned runs each time. He has a 2.57 ERA with 20 strikeouts to four walks. Last season in Chicago, Lester allowed six runs (five earned) in suffering his first loss of 2013.

Here is the Red Sox lineup tonight (first pitch - 8:05 pm ET):

1) Pedroia, 2B
2) Bogaerts, SS
3) Ortiz, DH
4) Napoli, 1B
5) Gomes, LF
6) Ross, C
7) Nava, RF
8) Roberts, 3B
9) Bradley Jr., CF

Lester, P

If Lester has been brilliant, then Sale has been a tad better, but only by the stat for the win column. He's 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA, with 19 strikeouts to four walks. He, too, has been charged with six earned runs, but has given up three twice and blanked the Royals over eight innings in the other. All three of his wins have come against AL Central teams. This will be his first career start against Boston. Sale pitched against the Red Sox twice each in 2010 and '11 for a total of 4.2 innings, with a win in relief, two holds and a save.

Unfortunate (baker's) dozen
In Wednesday night's win, the Red Sox managed six runs on six hits. The Sox led off the game with back-to-back-to-back hits by Dustin Pedroia (double), Xander Bogaerts (single to center) and David Ortiz (single to left). After that, the next Red Sox hit to leave the infield came on Bradley's 14th inning go-ahead double. Innings two through 13, a total of 12 innings, went by without the ball finding the outfield grass off the bat of a Boston hitter. In all honesty, it was worse than that.

After Ortiz's single, the next three Red Sox went down in order, meaning a full inning went by, and Bradley's hit came with two outs in the 14th. Thus, for 13 2/3 innings of play, Boston had zero hits leave the infield. Luckily, Chicago pitching had allowed three infield hits, walked 15 batters and hit Bogaerts twice to produce base runners.

Hat-tip to Sox beat
I recently have expressed my displeasure with Red Sox beat writers for their tweets during Sox games. Most of the time, innings go by without an update on what's partaking on the field. Often, the tweets mention how many fans there are, the music played in-stadium or the game-time temperature ... but if a pitcher is in a groove, we who follow on Twitter haven't a clue.

However, credit here where credit is due. A couple of tidbits from Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) of the Providence Journal, who pointed out Chris Capuano's stats. "Capuano has pitched the equivalent of a complete-game shutout this season: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 8 K, 1 BB."

Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) of The Boston Globe mentions that the Red Sox will be happy to conclude this road trip. He tweeted, "First 6 games: .173/.280/.288, 18 runs and 7 for 46 with RISP."

Also, Red Sox Manager, Media Relations & Baseball Information Jon Shestakofsky (@Shesta_Sox) notes that "Red Sox relievers combined to allow just 1 run in 8.0 innings last night. It improved Boston's bullpen ERA to 2.42, best in the AL."

Thanks for all the hard work these guys and many others put in. They really do a great job and are worth the Twitter follow.

Up next: The AL East
Boston plays its next 13 games against all four AL East foes. The Red Sox return home for a four-game set with Baltimore and three games against the Yankees. They'll head north of the border for a quick three-gamer in Toronto before returning home for three games with the Rays. After that, the Red Sox host Oakland for three and Cincinnati for two, meaning 15 of the next 18 games will be in front of the Fenway Faithful.

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