The Red Sox pitching staff was hit hard during Boston’s COVID-19 outbreak, but with some improvisation in the bullpen (especially in the closer role) and some guest appearances from Triple-A Worcester, the group largely managed to make it through.
On Friday, the Red Sox were on the other side of things. Ace Chris Sale and closer Matt Barnes returned from the COVID-19 related injured list after both had tested positive for the virus, and there were no signs of rust on either as Boston came away with a 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.
Sale lasted five innings en route to his fourth win of the season. He gave up one run — a solo homer — on just two hits. While he only struck out one hitter, he clearly had the Orioles offense puzzled.
“It’s just kind of how the game played out,” Sale said in a postgame video press conference, referring to Baltimore’s ability to make contact Friday. “My fastball wasn’t really jumping out of my hand tonight. I had to just rely on my secondary pitches — my slider, my changeup … I was leaning on my defense to make some plays and doing that. I just think it was kind of how the game played out.”
Sale came back to the bigs fresh off of his time on the injured list, but Barnes got some work in via a pair of rehab starts — one in Double-A Portland and one in Triple-A Worcester.
On Friday, Barnes was part of an on-fire bullpen that held the Orioles through the final four innings. In the eighth inning, he walked the first batter he faced but came back to get the final outs on strikes.