BOSTON -- In a game featuring Boston's Chris Sale, arguably one of baseball's top starting pitchers and White Sox ace from 2012-16, it was the Chicago trio of Dylan Covey, Trayce Thompson and Jace Fry emerging as heroes in a 1-0 victory for the South Siders at Fenway Park on Friday night. The White Sox improved to 3-2 on this seven-game road trip and ended a five-game losing streak at Fenway.
Covey, making his 17th career start, matched the six-time All-Star on the mound in this tautly played contest. He allowed three hits over six-plus innings, striking out seven and walking one as his ERA dropped to 2.22. Andrew Benintendi hit a leadoff double off the Green Monster against Covey, followed by a walk to Brock Holt. But Covey escaped that jam via a Mitch Moreland double play grounder and retired 12 in a row before Rafael Devers' one-out double in the fifth.
"Good. Really happy," Covey said of his night. "[Kevan Smith] and I were on the same page the whole game, pretty much. Felt like I was ahead a lot. Didn't feel like I was having to give in, in any counts really. I felt good. Well-called game by Smitty and I was able to execute."
"Credit to both chuckers today," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Dylan did a nice job, and so did Saler."
Renteria replaced Covey with Fry after Xander Bogaerts' leadoff single in the seventh. The Red Sox had two on with two out in the frame thanks to third baseman Jose Rondon's error, but Fry struck out Devers and then struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging after falling behind at 3-1. With Covey at 83 pitches upon his departure, the right-hander could have worked longer. But Renteria also factored in the grind Covey went through to get to that point.
"It's more than pitches," Renteria said. "It's how much he's working up here to keep it in play. He was grinding in front of 36,000 people here against the Boston Red Sox. You have to take all those factors into account."
"Yeah I felt good," Covey said. "But situation of the game, middle of the lineup, lefties. Fry's been awesome with lefties this year."
Sale struck out 10 and walked one over eight innings and 109 pitches, but still lost his third straight start. The one run he allowed came in the seventh, when Smith opened with a ground-rule double down the right-field line. He moved to third on Yoan Moncada's grounder and came home on Thompson's line-drive single to left over a drawn-in infield on a 2-2 pitch.
Thompson's hit came off a 99.4 mph fastball from Sale, which is the fastest pitch the White Sox have gotten a hit against this season.
"In my head, I wasn't going to get off his fastball," Thompson said. "He left it too much over the plate. I think he wanted to get it up a little more. I was able to barrel it up."
The 2010 MLB Draft featured Sale being taken 13th by the White Sox and Covey selected at No. 14 by the Brewers. Sale was in the Majors two months later, and Covey's climb to the big leagues hit its apex on Friday.
"He probably should have been taken one pick before me," Sale quipped of Covey. "Heck of a night, though. He obviously had everything working. Heavy sinker, throwing strikes, not surprising Coop [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] getting his hands on somebody like that and having success."
The White Sox bullpen holds a 2.66 ERA over its last 81 1/3 innings and 25 games. Closer Joakim Soria has not allowed a run in his last nine appearances, covering 9 1/3 innings. He has saved all three wins on this road trip.
HE SAID IT
"He's one of my favorite people I've come across in this game. Probably my favorite pitcher to watch in baseball. He treated me, since the day I met him in 2011 when he was a young guy, I was obviously a Minor Leaguer, he was cool. He treated me the same from then until I played with him in the big leagues."--Thompson, on Sale
Carlos Rodon should make his 2018 debut for the White Sox on Saturday with a first pitch of 3:05 p.m. CT at Fenway Park, although the White Sox still would not confirm the start postgame Friday. Rodon last pitched on Sept. 2, 2017, against the Rays before undergoing season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery later that month. Rodon fanned 28 over 17 2/3 innings during four Minor League injury rehab starts. The Red Sox will send David Price (6-4, 4.08 ERA) to the mound.