Don’t look now, but the Red Sox have won five of their last seven games, with the fifth coming thanks to a 7-3 victory in the club’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
Making the start against his former team in the fourth installment of this 10-game homestand was Rick Porcello, fresh off what was the best outing of his season last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Picking up his first winning decision of the year in this one, the right-hander yielded three earned runs on six hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night to notch his first quality start of 2019.
All three of those Tigers runs off Porcello came in the third, when JaCoby Jones and Jeimer Candelario led their half of the inning off with back-to-back hits before Nick Castellanos made things interesting by mashing a three-run homer off the Pesky Pole in right field.
That gave Detroit a brand new one-run lead right after the Red Sox had put up two runs of their own, all without an out yet to be recorded in the inning.
Fortunately for Boston, Porcello settled down from that point on, retiring 12 of the next 15 hitters he faced before his night came to an end following a scoreless sixth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (63 strikes), the New Jersey native made it into the sixth inning for the first time this season. He relied on his two-seam fastball 32% of the time on Thursday while topping out at 92.1 MPH with his four-seamer. Porcello’s next start should come against the Oakland Athletics next week.
In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen relatively held their own for the second consecutive night, with Heath Hembree, Colten Brewer, and Ryan Brasier combining for three frames of scoreless baseball.
For Hembree, Thursday marked the right-hander’s first clean outing since April 17th, while Brewer bounced back from a rough three-run inning on Tuesday with a 1-2-3 eighth in this one.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander and former Washington National Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers.
Having only pitched inside Fenway Park three times prior to Thursday, the Red Sox took advantage of a pitcher who hasn’t tossed a quality game since the beginning of April.
Starting the scoring for Boston in this one was none other than rookie sensation and top prospect Michael Chavis.
With Xander Bogaerts reaching base in the second on a one out single, Chavis, already with his first career homer under his best, put his team on the board first Thursday with home run number two, a 374-foot two-run shot over the Monster.
An inning later, after the Tigers had jumped out to a 3-2 lead, the Red Sox bats responded immediately with a three run frame of their own off of Zimmermann, with JD Martinez driving in Mookie Betts on a one out RBI single and Rafael Devers scoring Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts on a two out, two-run two-bagger. 5-3.
In the fourth, with Buck Farmer now in the game and pitching for Detroit, back-to-back doubles from Andrew Benintendi and Betts would provide the Red Sox with what would end up being an important insurance run on the 2018 American League MVP’s 12th RBI of the season. 6-3.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Benintendi would return the favor, sort of. This time plating Sandy Leon, who himself doubled, from second on another RBI two-bagger for his 13th run driven in of the year. That put the Red Sox up 7-3, which would go on to be the final score in this series finale.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
The Red Sox are 5-2 in their last seven games. They have scored 18 runs over their last two, both wins. In that span, Mookie Betts is slashing .423/.531/.692 with one home run and five RBI.
Next up for the Red Sox, the homestand continues with a three-game weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays slated to begin on Friday. However, given the weather and the fact that Alex Cora has yet to announce a starter, I’m going to go ahead and say the series opener will be postponed.
If it is not, first pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.