After looking lifeless in a series opening 8-0 loss to Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets on Friday night, the Red Sox looked to get back on track with Rick Porcello on the mound this afternoon.
Making his 31st start of the season on Saturday and coming off an outing in which he gave up four earned runs in less than six innings against the Houston Astros this past Sunday, Porcello had himself a solid day against the team he grew up a fan of.
Pitching five full innings in this one, the right-hander surrendered three earned runs on just two hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with five strikeouts on the evening.
As it so happens, those three runs given up by Porcello came on one swing of the bat from New York, when with one out and runners on first and second, Brandon Nimmo ripped a three-run homer to the Red Sox bullpen that put the Mets up 3-1 in the fourth.
Fortunately, the New Jersey native remained composed, buckled down, and sat down the final four hitters he faced to end his outing on a more positive note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 88, Porcello may not have gone the six innings Red Sox manager Alex Cora had planned for, but he did throw strikes 70% of the time on Saturday.
Out of those 88 pitches, the 29-year-old turned to his slider a total of 36 times, which resulted in six swinging strikes and four called strikes. He also topped out at 93.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the second inning.
Improving to 17-7 thanks in part to the four-run rally his team put together in their half of the fifth inning, Porcello will take his 4.30 ERA and impressive record into his next time out, which should come against the Cleveland Indians sometime next weekend.
In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen bounced back from an all-around awful performance last night by combining for four shutout frames today.
Bobby Poyner, Steven Wright, and Ryan Brasier all picked up holds from the top of the sixth to the middle of the eighth while Craig Kimbrel recorded his 41st save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mets rookie right-hander Corey Oswalt, who entered Saturday with a 6.62 ERA in 15 appearances (10 starts) with New York this season.
Starting the scoring right away in the first inning for Boston was Xander Bogaerts, whose one out RBI single plated Mookie Betts from third and put his team up early.
Fast forward to the fifth though, after the Mets had jumped out to a two run advantage of their own, and it was Steve Pearce who got a huge inning for the Red Sox started by grounding a two out single back up the middle.
One Ian Kinsler single and Mets mound visit later, it appeared as though Jackie Bradley Jr. had come through with the biggest hit of the game up to that point, a three-run home run off of Paul Sewald that would have put his team up 4-3.
Instead, after a rather lengthy umpire review, the home run was instead ruled a two RBI double, which did not and still does not make too much sense.
Nonetheless, with this game now tied, an intentional walk of Rafael Devers and a pitching change that saw RHP Drew Smith take over for Sewald set up Brock Holt in another pinch-hitting spot, as he came to the plate in the place of the struggling Sandy Leon.
On the first pitch he saw from Smith, Holt drilled a two-run double 406 feet to left center field like the pinch-hitting specialist he is.
That was good enough to drive in both Bradley Jr. and Devers, and just like that, the Red Sox had a brand new 5-3 lead. A lead they would not have to look back from en route to their 102nd win of the season.
Some notes from this 5-3 win:
From @RedSox: As a PH this season, Brock Holt is 5/13 (.385) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, and seven RBI.
In his last 30 games, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .324/.377/.532 with four home runs and 22 RBI. His 94 RBI on the season are a career high.
In six relief appearances this month, Craig Kimbrel is 4/4 in save opportunities. He has not given up a run nor a hit in those six appearances.
Going for the series win and win number 103 tomorrow afternoon, it will be a starting pitching matchup that features two frontrunners for the Cy Young in their respective leagues.
For New York, RHP Jacob deGrom will bring a National League leading 1.71 ERA into his first ever start at Fenway Park.
In one previous start against the Red Sox, which took place in 2015, deGrom held Boston to two runs on four hits and two walks over six innings at Citi Field.
Opposite deGrom will be Chris Sale for the Red Sox, who also leads his league in ERA at 1.96.
Per Alex Cora, Sale is expected to ramp it up to three innings of work tomorrow, then the bullpen will take it from there.
And in case you haven’t seen it yet, deGrom took Sale deep while the two were in college back in 2010. Not like it matters much in an American League ballpark though.
First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Sunday.