Coming off an impressive 8-3 win on Memorial Day, the Red Sox tacked on another eight runs against the Toronto Blue Jays last night. Having now won their past four series, the 38-17 Red Sox will look to sweep the Jays this afternoon before heading off to Houston.
Going into last night with an ERA of 5.40 in May, Rick Porcello made his 12th start of the season in this one, and he closed his month out in style. The righty nearly made it through seven full innings while surrendering three runs (two earned) on five hits, two walks, and two HBPs while fanning five.
Before pitching into the seventh, the only costly mistake Porcello made came in the top of the fourth, when he served up a one out solo shot to Jays first baseman Justin Smoak. As the game progressed, it looked like that was all Toronto would get off the Red Sox starter, but things got a bit interesting in the seventh.
Already up by four runs, Porcello hit the second batter he faced in the inning, Russell Martin, to put a runner on first with one out. Martin did not take too kindly to that, as that was the second time Porcello got a Blue Jay with a pitch, but the confrontation did not elevate past a few words between the two.
The New Jersey native followed that little adventure up by allowing the next two batters he faced in Kendrys Morales and Devon Travis to reach base via a walk and a single. That loaded the bases up for Luke Maile, but he struck out swinging on five pitches. Now with Curtis Granderson at the plate, who has already done a good deal of damage against the Red Sox this season, Porcello could not get a 2-2 92 MPH fastball past the veteran outfielder, and he drove in two runs on a single to right field.
With his pitch count at 96 (66 strikes), Porcello’s night would come to an end. I’m sure it did not end the way he wanted it to, but after the rough month he had, this outing is certainly encouraging headed into June.
Joe Kelly got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he would be tasked with getting the final out of the inning with runners on second and third. Thankfully, Kelly retired the only batter he faced in the seventh, Kevin Pillar, on a three pitch strikeout. The Red Sox flamethrower would come back out for a second frame of work in the eighth, and despite hitting a batter, got out of the inning unscathed.
Entering the ninth with a five run lead to work with, Hector Velazquez was able to get some work in, but he loaded the bases before recording an out. In a bit of a jam, Alex Cora had to turn to Craig Kimbrel when it didn’t look like he was going to be needed a half inning prior.
Facing the top of the Blue Jays order, Kimbrel struck out the first batter he saw in Kevin Pillar on seven pitches. Down to their last out, Kimbrel got Yangervis Solarte to ground out to third, and Rafael Devers made the throw to Dustin Pedroia for the force out at second. Ballgame over.
On the other side of things, Mitch Moreland got the scoring started for the Red Sox right away in the first inning. He drove in Xander Bogaerts on a hard hit double, then JD Martinez drove in Moreland from second on a double of his own.
Speaking of doubles, Sandy Leon had two of them last night. The first one came with one out in the second inning, and he came across to score two batters later when Andrew Benintendi picked up his 38th RBI of the season on another two-bagger off of Jays starter Marco Estrada.
Fast forward to the fourth, and the bottom of the Red Sox lineup came through again. A single and stolen base from Brock Holt put a runner in scoring position with two outs for Jackie Bradley Jr. On the first pitch he saw from Estrada, Bradley ripped a single to left field, and that allowed Holt to easily score from second.
In the sixth, with new pitcher Joe Biagini on the mound for Toronto, back to back singles from Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia, his first hit of the season, put runners on first and third with no outs. After Brock Holt struck out looking, Sandy Leon added on to his big day at the plate by grounding a RBI double past both the pitcher and the second baseman.
An inning later, Xander Bogaerts led things off by mashing his eighth home run of the season. He had 10 all of last year.
Finally, in the eighth, Sandy Leon capped off his incredible night with a two-run missile to the Red Sox bullpen to put this game out of reach.
Having won four of their past five games, Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball this afternoon in the series finale against the Blue Jays. He will be matched up against righty Sam Gaviglio. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Mookie Betts should be back in the lineup on Thursday.