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Red Sox Take Control Of First Place In AL East

Chris Sale delivered another beauty (and more ferocity) when he took the ball last night, and led the Red Sox to sole possession of first place in the AL East. This is the first time in 2017 the Red Sox are alone atop the division.

Since May 21st, the Red Sox have the best record in the American League, accumulating a 19-10 record in that span.

After struggling in the month of May, when Sale posted an uncharacteristic ERA of 4.24, Sale has righted the ship in June. He is 3-1 along with an ERA of 3.07 in the month of June.

“He’s invaluable,” said Farrell after the blowout on Tuesday night. “The way he’s pitched, the number of innings he’s pitched and the quality of the innings that he has contributed.”

The key moment in the game came in the top of the fourth inning, when the game was tied 1-1. It seemed like another Chris Sale start that the Red Sox were about to waste by not giving the ace some much-needed run support.

The bottom half of the lineup was due, and they did damage. Jackie Bradley Jr scored when rookie first baseman, Sam Travis, belted a scorching shot into left field, that was a couple feet away from his first career home run.

Josh Rutledge got on board and catcher Sandy Leon drove in both Travis and Rutledge on a deep double to center field and the lead was extended to 4-1. With Sale on the mound, and the Yankees trailing to the Los Angeles Angels, the Red Sox knew they had first place in the division locked up.

But that did not stop the Red Sox from packing on some additional runs in the top of the sixth inning. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Leon led the team with 2 RBI each.

Chris Sale made it look easy, at one point retiring 19 batters in a row, until the ninth inning hit. Sale allowed a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth and when Farrell came out for the first pitching change of the game for the Sox, Sale was noticeably frustrated that he could not finish his second consecutive complete game.

“I don’t want to tell John I can do something that I can’t get done,” said Sale. “I’ll never settle. When you start settling, you get complacent. When you get complacent, you [stink]. That’s not my style. You get over it, obviously, because we’re still winning the game. Once that last out’s recorded, we’re all smiles.”

For the series finale, the Red Sox will send out left-hander Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.19). Pomeranz had a good outing last time out, allowing only four hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings.

The Royals will counter with right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-6, 5.03). Kennedy was on fire last time out on the mound, retiring the first 17 batters and earning his first win of the season.

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Follow Malik Zorrok on Twitter @MalikStark_