BOSTON -- For seven innings on Tuesday, the Rockies were stifled by a dominating, 17-strikeout performance by Chris Sale. As soon as he left the mound, the game was just getting started.
Colorado would come all the way back to eventually win it, 5-4, with a Mark Reynolds RBI single in the 11th inning. A total of 24 strikeouts by the Red Sox wasn’t enough to deter the Rockies in the series opener.
“That’s how [these Rockies players] are built,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “The resolve that they have over the long haul is really, really good stuff. They have a great ability to turn the page and realize [the] next day’s game is the most important thing.”
Sale was lights out early, striking out the first six batters as the Rockies struggled to connect against the lefty. He tied Randy Johnson for the most strikeouts against the Rockies by a starting pitcher in a single game. Johnson did it on April 21, 2002.
“He was on tonight,” Black said of Sale. “That was legit. He’s a premium strikeout pitcher, as evident by what he’s done the last couple years. But I’m proud of our guys. … We just stayed at it. It was a hell of a game.”
Getting a hit, let alone a home run, was challenging enough, but Nolan Arenado put the Rockies on the board with a two-run shot in the seventh. Sale got right back to business, striking out the next three batters to wrap up his outing. He concluded his evening with 17 K’s, three hits, two runs and no walks over 108 pitches.
“It was getting a little scary there. I thought a no-hitter was coming,” Arenado said. “I felt like we kind of just stole that one. It was a really good win.”
Arenado’s shot was enough to put a damper on Sale’s performance, which ended in a no-decision.
“Seven innings is great and 17 punchouts is great but at the same time, I had terrible timing with giving up the runs I did,” Sale said. “I appreciate what happened tonight. I’m not taking away from that. But at the same time, it’s pretty crappy timing to give up a two-run homer and give a team a new life.”
Meanwhile, Rockies starter Kyle Freeland pitched six innings on his 26th birthday. He gave up three solo home runs off five hits and struck out seven in his ninth start of the season.
With Brandon Workman in and Sale off the mound, the Rockies got to work in the eighth inning. A 367-foot double by Chris Iannetta barely missed clearing the Green Monster in left field for a home run. Charlie Blackmon then crushed a 417-foot, two-run homer to center field to put the Rockies on top, 4-3. That homer extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
“I was ahead in the count, so I was looking to swing at a strike. He just threw it where I wanted it,” Blackmon said, adding, “We found a way to win that wasn’t exactly textbook.”
“I know he throws high heaters, and I was trying to hit the very top of the baseball,” Reynolds said. “The first two were kind of up and in. He was trying to do the same 0-2, and he kind of pulled it a little bit and left it out over the plate just a little bit. I was able to get on top of it and throw it into center.”
Wade Davis closed out the game to pick up his seventh save of the season. The Rockies improved to 3-1 in extra innings and 4-1 in their last five games.
“After a day off, throughout that whole game it wasn’t looking good, and we found a way,” Arenado said. “It was great. Everyone picked each other up, and it’s a big win for us.”