Having dropped the first two games of a three game series to the Minnesota Twins, the Red Sox looked to end their ten-game road trip with a win and head back home 6-4 in their last ten.
With Rick Porcello on the mound and making his 16th start of the season, they did what they had to do to clinch a winning trip.
In seven masterful innings, the Red Sox righty held the Twins scoreless while giving up just one hit, one walk, and one HBP. The most high stress situation Porcello ran into came in his first frame of work, when he hit Eduardo Escobar and Logan Morrison ripped a single off of him to put runners on first and second with two outs. After getting Robbie Grossman to groundout to end the inning, the New Jersey native walked another batter in Ryan Lamarre with two outs in the second. From that point on, he sat down the next 16 Twins he faced from the second up until the conclusion of the seventh.
Finishing with five strikeouts on the day, Porcello needed just 97 pitches (65 strikes) to get through seven scoreless frames. Out of those 97 pitches, the 29-year-old hurler utilized his slider the most, as he went to it 25 times on the day. His four-seam fastball, which he threw 24 times, topped out at 93 MPH in the first inning.
In four starts in the month of June, Rick Porcello has actually been quite good. In those four starts, the Cy Young Award winner is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and .191 BAA in 25.1 innings pitched. He’ll look to build on this successful run as of late in his next outing against the Anaheim Angels early next week.
In relief of Porcello and with a nine run lead to work with going into the bottom half of the eighth inning, Hector Velazquez was responsible for wrapping this thing up. The righty held the Twins scoreless in the eighth, but got beat up a bit for two runs in the ninth. Those runs were meaningless, but after yesterday, Velazquez has given up 10 hits in his last seven appearances. His numbers still look respectable, but I can understand why we really have not seen him in all that many high leverage situations this season. Like I said though, they got the win, their 50th of the season, ensuring a happy flight back to Boston.
On the other side of things, it was looking as if it was going to be another frustrating day for the Red Sox lineup.
Facing off against Twins starter Kyle Gibson, the Red Sox were held scoreless until the fourth inning, when, after Mitch Moreland led things off by drawing a walk and advanced to second on a Brock Holt single, Sandy Leon came through with an RBI single, his second of the series, to drive in Moreland from second and put his team on the board first.
An inning later, Mookie Betts awoke from a little power slump my mashing his 19th home run of the season, a rare opposite field blast hit into the right field seats.
Fast forward to the top of the seventh, with Gibson out of the game now, the Red Sox had the chance to separate themselves by adding on some insurance runs and that’s exactly what they did.
A one out single off the bat of JD Martinez followed by a Mitch Moreland walk led to a two-RBI double from Xander Bogaerts. Having advanced to third base on the throw back to infield, Bogaerts came into score on a Rafael Devers RBI groundout. 5-0.
In the seventh, the Red Sox tacked on another three runs thanks to Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland. For Benintendi, he collected his second hit of the afternoon by blasting a two-run home run, his 13th, 417 feet to right field.
Back to back doubles from JD Martinez and Mitch Moreland after that Benintendi bomb put the eighth run of the day on the board for the Red Sox.
And in the ninth, with an already commanding eight run lead, Jackie Bradley Jr. got in on the action and did something productive at the plate by notching his 18th RBI of the season to score Brock Holt from second and make it a 9-0 game.
Some notes from this win:
The Red Sox improved to 15-3 in series finales on the season yesterday.
In his last four games started, Mitch Moreland is 6/14 with three RBI and three walks.
Brock Holt is slashing .297/.374/.414 in 44 games this season. Eduardo Nunez is slashing .247/.277/.348 in 64 games this season. I think I know who deserves more playing time at second base.
At 50-26, no team in Major League Baseball has more wins than the Boston Red Sox. Despite all the freaking out this past week, that fact remains true.
Also, shout out to Mookie Betts showing off his scouting report after playing a ball perfectly in the shift.
Heading into the weekend with a three game set against a familiar foe in the Seattle Mariners on deck, the Red Sox will turn to knuckeballer Steven Wright for the series opener. He’ll be matched up against M’s righty Wade LeBlanc, who tossed seven shutout innings against Boston last Saturday in Seattle. In three career starts against the Red Sox , LeBlanc owns a 3.24 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched. Hopefully, with more information on him, the lineup will be able to get off to a quick start and backup what should be another fine night for Steven Wright. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.