After an off day on Friday, the Red Sox picked up where they left off against the Tampa Rays Today.
Making his second start of the season, Rick Porcello impressed in his 2018 Fenway Park debut. The righty got off to a rough start, as he allowed the Rays to score twice in the top of the first, but he really settled down after that. At one point, Porcello had retired 17 batters in a row from the second to the seventh inning. He finished with a line of 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, O BB, and 7 K’s. With those two runs the Rays scored in the first, the Red Sox streak of seven straight games where starters allowed less than one earned run ended, but it was a solid outing from Porcello nonetheless. The New Jersey native exited in the eighth after throwing 94 pitches, 66 of which went for strikes.
When Porcello departed with one out in the top of the eighth, it was righty reliever Marcus Walden who took over for him. Walden got the only batter he faced in the inning, Mallex Smith, to ground out into a 1-6-3 double play, thus ending things in the inning. Fast forward to the ninth, and Walden retired the side in order, striking out two and getting some help from Andrew Benintendi with the second out.
This performance was good to see out of Walden compared to how he looked last week against the Rays and Marlins. He’ll be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket to make room for Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be activated from the 10-Day Disabled List and will start in the series finale tomorrow.
Offensively, the Red Sox lineup had their way with Rays pitching in this one. After going down by two runs very quickly, the Red Sox headed to the second inning up by two. Mookie Betts got things started right away with a leadoff double, and that was followed by a Andrew Benintendi walk and a Hanley Ramirez bloop single. With the bases loaded and no outs, JD Martinez came extremely close to launching a grand slam to right field, but Rays center fielder Carlos Gomez came up with it. That did allow Betts to score from third and the Red Sox were on the board. The very next batter, Xander Bogaerts, got his great day at the plate started by lacing a double off the left field wall, clearing the bases and putting his team up by one. Rafael Devers was up next, and he drove Bogaerts home with an RBI single to right, and the Red Sox were up 4-2 in a very exciting first inning.
In the very next inning, the Red Sox lineup matched the total of runs they scored in the first by putting up another four runs, all on one swing of the bat from Xander Bogaerts. After Rays starter Jake Faria had walked three of the first five batters he faced in the second inning, Bogaerts took things into his own hands yet again and delivered big. Again.
That slam was the first from the Red Sox since September 24, 2016, which Dustin Pedroia was responsible for. That also came against the Tampa Bay Rays.
With that grand slam, Xander Bogaerts had upped his RBI total in the game to six, a new career high for the short stop. He is now hitting .371 on the season with an OPS of 1.148.
The bats went silent for a while after those first two innings, as Rays pitching held them to zero runs over the next four innings. Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh though, and things started to pick up again.
With Chaz Roe on the mound and JD Martinez at the plate, can you guess who won in this matchup? If you guessed Martinez, you would be correct because the Red Sox slugger launched his first home run of the season over the Green Monster to put his team up 9-2.
Gotta love the silent treatment when Martinez made his way back to the dugout after rounding the bases.
Two batters later and we had Rafael Devers launching his first home run of the season off of Roe as well, giving the Red Sox their tenth and final run of the contest.
All and all, it was a great day for the Red Sox lineup. Not only did they score a ton of runs, but they drew a total of six walks and forced the Rays to use five pitchers, including a position player, the day before their “bullpen day”.
The Red Sox are now 7-1. This is the best start to a season they have had since 1920. Like I said, Eduardo Rodriguez will be getting the start tomorrow afternoon, with Andrew Kittredge “starting” for the Rays. First pitch is at 1:05 with the Red Sox going for their eighth straight win.