For the first time in five tries, the Red Sox have finally won their first home series of the 2019 season, wrapping up their April with a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics Tuesday night.
Making his sixth start of the year in the middle game of this series was Rick Porcello, who did not pitch in the Red Sox’ first series against the A’s out in Oakland earlier in the month.
Coming off his first quality outing in his last time out against the Detroit Tigers, the right-hander was even better in this one, holding the Athletics scoreless on just two hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over eight superb innings of work. It is the longest start for a Red Sox starting pitcher so far this season.
One of those two free passes came in the second inning, but nothing came of it. That final walk though, which came in the third against Robbie Grossman, put runners on first and second with two outs in a two-run game.
Porcello was able to get out of the jam by getting Matt Chapman to ground into an inning-ending force out at second, and that would turn out to be the only frame the righty allowed multiple runners to reach base.
Retiring 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced from the start of the fourth inning on, Porcello nearly lost the final batter he faced in Marcus Semien with two outs in the eighth, but ended up getting the Athletics shortstop to line out to Mookie Betts in right to retire the side, thus capping off the hurler’s fine night in emphatic fashion.
Finishing with a final season-high pitch count of 114 (78 strikes), Porcello relied heavily upon his slider with Sandy Leon behind the plate, as he turned to the pitch 36% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday and induced five swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 23 times.
Improving to 2-3 on the season and lowering his ERA from 7.43 down to 5.52, Porcello’s next start should come against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
In relief of the New Jersey native, Tyler Thornburg was the only Red Sox reliever used for the ninth, and despite giving up a home run to Robbie Grossman, managed to preserve his team’s 13th win of the season.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in right-hander Aaron Brooks for Oakland.
Brooks, 29, tossed six innings of scoreless baseball in his previous start against Boston back on the first of April. This time around, things went a little more in the Red Sox’ favor.
Starting right away in the first inning, Mookie Betts stayed hot and got the Sox on the board almost immediately in this one, launching a one out, 396 foot solo shot off Brooks for his sixth home run of the season.
An inning later, the bottom of Boston’s lineup came through this time around, with Sandy Leon collecting his second RBI of the year on a two out single to score Michael Chavis, who reached base on a one out single himself, from third. 2-0.
Fast forward to the fourth, and Mitch Moreland followed up another one out single from Chavis and broke out of a little 1-for-20 slump by mashing his team-leading eighth big fly of the season on a 3-1 fastball from Brooks.
423 feet to dead center, 110 MPH off the bat, 4-0 Red Sox.
And in the fifth, after JD Martinez reached base on a fielding error and Xander Bogaerts was walked on six pitches, Rafael Devers wrapped up a solid night of solid offensive play by ripping a line drive RBI double down the right field line to plate Martinez and make it a 5-0 contest.
According to Statcast, that hit had an exit velocity of 105 MPH, and it all but provided the Red Sox with the protection they needed to pick up the 5-1 win Tuesday night.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
Rafael Devers accounted for three batted balls on Tuesday, one of which went for an RBI double. The three exit velocities of those batted balls are as follows: 104.7 MPH, 104.7 MPH, 110 MPH.
Finishing April with a 12-14 record, it was certainly a month to forget for the defending World Series champions, but with two straight wins to close things out, May could be the time to really get back on track in a tremendous way.
Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll go for the three-game sweep of the A’s Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park.
In a pitching matchup featuring two right-handers, it will be Mike Fiers going for Oakland, and Hector Velazquez going for Boston.
First pitch of the series finale Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.