Following a three-game series win over the Detroit Tigers this past weekend, the Red Sox headed east to take on a Baltimore Orioles team with the worst record in all of baseball.
Weather was an issue for the second straight day, as this game saw two separate rain delays, but that did not stop Monday night’s starter from having a solid night on the mound.
Rick Porcello, coming off his worst outing in his last time out against the Blue Jays prior to the All-Star break, looked much more like himself last night. Granted, his opponent was a team with the second worst offense in the American League in terms of run production, but still, Porcello looked like the pitcher we have grown to become familiar with.
In six full innings pitched, the righty scattered six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts while holding the O’s scoreless.
Despite not having one 1-2-3 frame in his 21st start of the season, Porcello worked around the minimal traffic he had created for himself and escaped any potential damage.
In the third, Baltimore nearly struck for their first run of the night, but an Andrew Benintendi to Xander Bogaerts to Sandy Leon relay to get Jace Peterson out at home for the final out prevented that from happening.
The second closest the Orioles came to scoring a run off the New Jersey native came in the bottom half of the fourth, when with one out in the inning, Adam Jones, who had led things off with single and advanced to second on a ground out, was awarded third base because of a balk.
Although it was not entirely clear and the umpires did gather to discuss what had taken place, Jones remained at third base with a golden scoring opportunity for Baltimore on the horizon.
Thankfully, Porcello bounced back by fanning the next two batters he faced to get out of the jam and keep his team in front by one run.
Finishing with 90 pitches (55 strikes) on the night and improving to 12-4 on the season, the weather more than likely played a role in how deep Porcello went into this game. A las, six scoreless innings is six scoreless innings.
Out of those 90 pitches, the 29 year-old hurler relied on his two-seam and four-seam fastballs a combined 53% of the time on Monday while topping out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seamer on his eighth pitch of the game.
Lowering his ERA below four at 3.93, Porcello will look to build off this successful start in his next time out, which will more than likely come against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
From the middle of the seventh inning on, the Red Sox bullpen initially have a five run lead to protect, but the Orioles made things a bit interesting towards the end of this one.
With the help of Jackie Bradley Jr., Ryan Brasier went on to toss a scoreless frame in that seventh inning.
Brandon Workman got the call for the eighth, and he put an end to the Red Sox shut out by surrendering a two-run home run to Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop to make it a 5-2 game. Second straight appearance in which he has served up a home run.
In a rain-filled ninth inning, Craig Kimbrel, despite getting hit fairly hard, gave up one run en route to notching his 32nd save of the year, ensuring his teams 71st win in the process.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a pitcher they have already beaten up on this season in the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman.
Gausman, 27, started against Boston back on May 17th and got walloped for six runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in a losing effort at Fenway Park.
Last night, the righty out of LSU was not much better against a team he has routinely struggled against in his six-year career.
Starting in the second inning, Mitch Moreland kicked off the scoring for the Red Sox by mashing his 12th long ball of the season, a 412 foot shot to make it a 1-0 game early.
Fast forward to the fifth inning, and a leadoff double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts got a four-run rally started for Boston.
After Brock Holt advanced Bogaerts to third by grounding out to second, a chain of three straight walks drawn by the Red Sox 7-8-9 hitters allowed Bogaerts to easily stroll in from third and out his team on the board for the second time.
Two batters later, Andrew Benintendi went to the opposite field and drove in a pair of runs for the second day in a row on a ground-rule double to make it a 4-0 game. That was how Gausman’s night came to an end as he eventually got hit with his eighth loss of the season.
Following a pitching change that saw Miguel Castro, another righty, take over for Gausman, JD Martinez wrapped up the scoring for the Red Sox by collecting his 82nd RBI of the year on a hard hit infield single that plated Jackie Bradley Jr. from third to put his team up 5-0.
Despite getting out hit to go along with a valiant comeback effort from the Orioles to cut the Red Sox lead from five runs down to two, they did hold on to win, as I have previously mentioned, their 71st game in 102 tries.
Some notes from this win:
With a seventh inning single, Mookie Betts extended his on-base streak to 23 games.
Mitch Moreland hit his first home run last night since June 24th when he hit one against the Seattle Mariners.
Andrew Benintendi owns a 1.110 OPS with eight RBI in the month of July.
Finally, from @SoxNotes: The Red Sox’ 71 wins are their most ever through the first 102 games of a season.
Boston is 40 games above .500 (71-31) for the first time since the 1949 club was a season-best 96-56.
The Sox are a season-best 6.0 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.
Going for the series win later tonight, it will be Drew Pomeranz making his return to the Red Sox rotation for his first appearance in a Boston uniform since May 31st.
With a 6.81 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in eight games started this season, Pomeranz will be matched up against Orioles rookie Yefry Ramirez, who gave up three runs in 4.1 innings pitched in his first ever start against the Red Sox back on June 13th.
First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Tuesday, if the weather holds up.