BOSTON -- An infuriated Chris Sale pinned the 7-1 loss the Red Sox took to the Braves Sunday afternoon solely on himself.With their ace on the mound, the Red Sox felt good about their chances of pulling out a three-game sweep against the surprising Braves at Fenway Park. But thanks
BOSTON -- An infuriated Chris Sale pinned the 7-1 loss the Red Sox took to the Braves Sunday afternoon solely on himself.
With their ace on the mound, the Red Sox felt good about their chances of pulling out a three-game sweep against the surprising Braves at Fenway Park. But thanks to Sale not even being close to his usual dominant self, Atlanta salvaged the finale of the weekend set.
The boxscore will show the most damaging hits to be the three-run homer from Sale's old batterymate Tyler Flowers in the second and the two-run double by Freddie Freeman in the fifth.
But those aren't the pitches that had Sale seething after the game. Instead, it was the three walks, all which wound up crossing home plate. A control specialist who has averaged just 43 walks the past three seasons, Sale is disappointed to already have 20 this season in 12 starts.
"That's what really kills you," said Sale. "At the end of the day those are the daggers. Two-run home runs, solo shots, it's fine. But when you're giving them free passes and making those solo shots two-run home runs and three-run home runs, that's what kills you and that really takes the energy out.
"We're sitting there in the second inning and a three-run shot, [stinks]. It really does. You're putting a lot of pressure on your offense. You're making guys press and I just put my guys in a bad spot today, I really did."
• Fenway hosts star-studded Alumni Game
Flowers now has two homers and six RBIs lifetime against Sale in four career at-bats. Sale worked 90 career games with Flowers as his batterymate, his most with any catcher.
Could that have played a role in Flowers doing so well against him?
"Sitting here right now, I'd like to think so. But I don't know," Sale said. "I've always thought he was a great hitter. He's a great ballplayer. Obviously, I respect him. He's probably caught more of my games than anybody else. He's seen it quite a few times. So you've got to be better there, though. Fastball right down the middle. Not too many times you're going to win that battle."
This was Sale's worst start of the season by innings (4 1/3) and runs (six earned). He walked three, struck out eight and left with the Red Sox trailing, 6-0.
The subpar performance from Sale wasn't the only problem for Boston. The bats also went cold, generating three walks and no hits over the first five innings.
Andrew Benintendi broke up the no-hitter by Mike Foltynewicz with a double off the Green Monster with one out in the sixth. Mitch Moreland continued his strong weekend by ripping an RBI triple into the corner in right to trim the deficit to 6-1.
"He threw a great game," Moreland said of Foltynewicz. "He mixed his pitches. He got ahead. He's got a good fastball. He played his breaking ball off of it pretty good and it was his day."
For the Braves, it was sweet to get out of Fenway with a win, especially on a day phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. tumbled into the Fenway dirt and injured his knee and back. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Acuna walked off under his own power.
"Oh, I'm glad that he was able to walk off the field. It's tough, I mean, you saw it. He was just laying there," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I was just talking to one of the coaches about the talent they have on the field, and that's a good baseball team and I know people feel that they're close to being great. With the talent they have on a daily basis, they're really good. He's part of it. I'm glad he was able to walk off the field and hopefully it's nothing serious."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Filling the void: Moreland continues to hit the ball with authority in the immediate aftermath of the Red Sox opening up playing time for him by designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment. The triple on Sunday made him 5-for-13 with a double, two triples and a homer for the weekend. The triples on back-to-back days were striking for the slow-footed runner who had just four career three-baggers before Saturday.
"That's way too much," Moreland said. "I don't know what's going on around here. I don't think it's going to happen too many more times. I said that yesterday. I'll take them if they come, but that's a lot of running."
While many people were worried how the bullpen would fare after key setup man Carson Smith sustained a right shoulder subluxation on May 14, Boston's relievers have responded, allowing just two earned runs over 28 2/3 innings in the team's last eight games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Red Sox finally felt they might be able to grab some momentum in the game after Benintendi's double broke up the no-hitter. But when Xander Bogaerts stepped up next and hit a 104-mph laser that second baseman Ozzie Albies snared out of the air, it felt like it was not going to be Boston's day. After that RBI triple by Moreland later in the inning, the Red Sox had just two more hits the rest of the day.
HE SAID IT
"I'm getting more used to doing that more often because my kids are now taking me deep all the time."
-- Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, on giving up a towering home run to Julio Lugo in Sunday's Alumni Game at Fenway Park
Lefty David Price, who has been solid in his last three starts after missing a turn due to carpal tunnel syndrome, opens a three-game series against the Blue Jays when he pitches Monday's 1:05 p.m. ET game at Fenway Park. This is Price's first start at Fenway since his complete-game five-hitter against the Orioles on May 17. Toronto will counter with Aaron Sanchez for the Memorial Day tilt.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.