BOSTON — Chris Sale remained winless after five starts but struck out a season-high 10 in five innings as the Detroit Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 7-4 Tuesday to start their first doubleheader sweep at Fenway Park since August 1965.
Spencer Turnbull (1-2) pitched five shutout innings for his first major league win, leading the Tigers to a 4-2 victory in the nightcap that left the World Series champions at 9-15.
Brandon Dixon greeted Marcus Walden with a three-run double after the Tigers loaded the bases against Hector Velázquez (0-2), and the Red Sox were swept in a twin-bill for the first time since the Los Angeles Angels accomplished the feat on July 20, 2015.
Sale gave up two runs, five hits and two walks, lowering his ERA from 8.50 to 7.43. The 30-year-old, who signed a $160 million, six-year contract late in spring training, had never gone his first five starts in a big league season without a victory.
“A step in the right direction, but I’m still not satisfied,” said Sale, who managed not to take a loss for the first time this year.
Sale clearly felt better than after an 8-0 loss last week at the New York Yankees, which he called “flat-out embarrassing.”
Sale said his velocity continued to improve, but had some command issues again.
“I need to clean some things up around the edges, but we’ll get there,” Sale said. “I can’t make them put the ball in play, but I can fill up the strike zone and throw strikes.”
Sale, who won his first nine starts with the Chicago White Sox in 2016, left after 97 with the score 2-2.
“I at least gave my team a chance to win when I left the ballgame, but still relying on my bullpen guys too much,” Sale said. “We’ve been leaning on those guys down there a lot — myself, mostly. It’d just be nice to be able to go out there and fill up seven or eight innings or even finish a game for these guys and give them a day off.”
That would have been especially nice Tuesday after the opener of the four-game series was rained out Monday night.
“I felt that he was better than the last one as far as like command,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “Give them credit for getting the pitch count up in five innings, then they did what they did with the bullpen.”
Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire was impressed how his lineup capitalized on Sale’s mistakes.
“He’s tough and he’s going to punch out guys. That’s what he’s known for and that’s what he does, and you’ve just got to find a way, try to get a couple here and there off him,” Gardenhire said. “We did that — when he made a mistake we got aggressive on him and jumped him, kind of ambushed him a little bit.”
Matthew Boyd (2-1) combined with three relievers on a five-hitter against Boston, starting a 10-game homestand after a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay. Josh Harrison hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth off Colten Brewer (0-2) and scored two pitches later on a single by Grayson Greiner.
In the second game, Shane Greene struck out two in a one-hit ninth for his 11th save in as many tries. The opener was Detroit’s first win that Greene did not save.
Boston stranded seven runners against Turnbull and 13 in all. Bogaerts blooped an RBI single in the seventh off Joe Jimenez and Mike Chavis cut the deficit to 3-2 in the eighth against Victor Alcántara with his first big league homer. John Hicks hit an RBI double in the ninth against Travis Lakins, who made his big league debut and allowed four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Detroit has won four of five and swept a doubleheader for the first time since Sept. 22, 2016, at Minnesota.
Boston recalled Lakins from Pawtucket and LHP Darwinzon Hernandez from Double-A Portland ahead of the nightcap. Hernandez made his debut when he started the fifth inning Tuesday night. He was replaced with one out and two on in the seventh by Lakins, who struck out Jeimer Candelario and retired Nicholas Castellanos on a groundout. Hernandez allowed four hits, walked one and struck out four in 2 1/3 innings.
Tigers: SS Jordy Mercer, placed on the 10-day IL last week with a right quadriceps strain, will continue his rehab at extended spring training in Lakeland, Florida. Gardenhire said Mercer could be back in four or five days. … Gardenhire dropped Harrison from leadoff to seventh in the batting order and hit Candelario first. Harrison had a pair of hits in the opener and two more in the nightcap to raise his average from .122 to .159.
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi had surgery Tuesday to remove a loose body in his right elbow and is expected to miss about six weeks. Eovaldi had similar surgery on March 30 last year while with Tampa Bay and made his season debut May 30. He also has had two Tommy John operations. “I don’t want to give a timetable, but I think everybody knows around what it’s going to take,” Cora said. “He should be fine when he comes back and ready to roll.”
Detroit RHP Tyson Ross (1-2, 3.38 ERA) takes on Boston LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 7.20) on Wednesday night.