ANAHEIM -- The night boded well for the Red Sox after they built a five-run lead before ace left-hander Chris Sale even took the mound.
Behind a first-inning offensive eruption and another dominant performance from Sale, the Red Sox cruised to a 6-2 win over the Angels in Friday night's series opener at Angel Stadium.
"It's nice, for sure. Lets you relax a little bit," Sale said of the early barrage by the offense. "It really sets the tone for the entire game. I don't know that there's anything better you can ask for. You see the first run score, the second run score, third run, and it just kept going. That definitely set the tone for the rest of the game."
Boston hammered Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco for five runs in the first, and Sale made sure his club never trailed, firing six shutout innings en route to his 12th victory of the season. Sale held the Angels to just four hits while walking two and striking out nine and capped his outing by collecting his MLB-best 200th strikeout of the season.
"I've not been around a pitcher that's had those kind of totals," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The strikeout capability is certainly unique. He's an elite pitcher, and it's not just with one pitch. It's with three different ones he can get strikeouts with, but to see how consistent he's been with strikeouts totals is unique and certainly impressive."
Nolasco lasted just four innings, allowing six runs on nine hits. The 34-year-old veteran fell to 4-11 with a 5.13 ERA in 112 1/3 innings this season.
"I felt pretty good the whole game," Nolasco said. "The first inning, a lot of balls found holes. You can't do nothing but wear it. Down 5-0 to Chris Sale, it's not good at all."
Martin Maldonado scored both of the Angels' runs, blasting a solo home run off Kyle Martin in the seventh and scoring on Ben Revere's RBI single in the ninth.
Angels left fielder Shane Robinson departed the game after four innings with upper back spasms and was replaced by Revere to start the fifth. Robinson is day to day, according to Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Red Sox rock Nolasco early: It didn't take long for Boston's offense to come alive against Nolasco, who surrendered five runs on six hits and a wild pitch in the first inning. Mookie Betts opened the game with a bloop double and scored on Andrew Benintendi's single to put the Red Sox on the board. Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez followed with consecutive one-out singles to place runners on the corners, and Moreland came home after Nolasco's 1-1 slider to Xander Bogaerts skipped through Maldonado's legs for a wild pitch. Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. capped the big inning with back-to-back RBI hits, though the Angels caught a break when Bradley was tagged out at second after doubling and making a wide turn at the bag.
"Those guys kind of stayed on Ricky, used the whole field and bunched together a bunch of hits in the first inning," Scioscia said. "It obviously set the tone for the game."
Sale escapes jam with 200th K: The Angels generated few scoring opportunities against Sale, but they threatened in the sixth after Michael Trout drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on Andrelton Simmons' two-out single to left. Still, Sale kept the Red Sox's 6-0 lead intact by whiffing Kole Calhoun to end the inning. It marked Sale's 200th strikeout of the year, making him the fourth pitcher to ever reach the threshold in 20 or fewer starts in a season. Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were the others. More >
"It's cool. I definitely appreciate it. I'm not the biggest fan of looking into stuff like that," Sale said. "Those things are for the offseason or when I tell my grandkids or something like that. We still have a lot of work to do. I don't want to get caught up in stuff like that."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sale has owned the Angels in his career. He is now 6-0 with a 1.23 ERA against them in nine career appearances.
JBJ TAKES FLIGHT
Bradley added to his defensive highlight reel by making an unbelievable catch to start the bottom of the first. Angels leadoff hitter Yunel Escobar drove a 1-2 fastball from Sale to deep center field, but Bradley made a leaping catch, slammed into the wall and held on to rob Escobar of extra bases. More >
Red Sox: Left-hander David Price, who has been in top form for the Red Sox of late, pitches the middle game of this three-game series Saturday night. Last time out against the Yankees, Price fired eight shutout innings, scattering seven hits, walking none and striking out eight. First pitch is scheduled for 9:07 p.m. ET.
Angels: Right-hander JC Ramirez will take the mound for the Angels on Saturday night as they continue their three-game series against the Red Sox at 6:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. The Big A has not been a friendly venue for Ramirez, who is 1-5 with a 5.50 ERA at home this season.
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