After going off for a season-high 15 runs on Saturday night, the Red Sox followed that up with a seven-run eighth inning on Sunday in a 9-2 rout over the Chicago White Sox to take the series three games to one.
Making his sixth start of the season and coming off his best outing last time out in this one was Rick Porcello.
Well-versed in working at Guaranteed Rate Field, the right-hander surrendered just two earned runs on five hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over six quality innings on the afternoon.
Both of those Chicago runs came on a pair of solo home runs, with the first coming off the bat of Ryan Cordell in the fifth and the second coming from Jose Abreu an inning later.
That Abreu solo shot tied the game at two at the time it was mashed, but Porcello responded in a positive way by sitting down the final two White Sox hitters he faced in the sixth to kill any shot of a multi-run inning.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (74 strikes), the 30-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing six swings and misses and topping out at 93.1 MPH with the pitch.
Unable to pick up the winning decision because of that second home run, Porcello did lower his ERA on the season down 5.11 thanks to his third consecutive quality start dating back to April 25th. He’ll look for his third W of the year in his next time out, which should come against the Seattle Mariners back at Fenway Park next weekend.
In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final three innings of this one.
Brandon Workman got the call for the seventh in a tie-game situation, and he worked his way around a leadoff walk to pick up his second winning decision of the season with another scoreless frame of relief.
From there, after the Red Sox jumped out to a seven-run advnatage in their half of the eighth, Marcus Walden shut down the White Sox in their half of the inning before Colten Brewer locked down the 9-2 win with a scoreless, yet erratic ninth.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against White Sox right-hander Dylan Covey, someone who went unbeaten in two appearances (one start, one relief outing) against Boston last season.
Coming off an offensive outpour on Saturday, the Red Sox bats were held in check by Covey through the fifth, managing to push across just two runs on a second inning RBI single from Mitch Moreland and more of the same from JD Martinez in that fifth inning.
They certainly had their chances to score even more off the White Sox starter, but it wasn’t until the eighth where the offense really picked things up, just like what they did in the third inning Saturday.
Entering the frame in a 2-2 contest with flame throwing reliever Kelvin Herrera on the bump for Chicago, a one out single from Rafael Devers, followed by some sloppy fielding from the White Sox that allowed the Red Sox infielder to reach third base safely, would end up being the catalyst for another massive inning.
After a mound visit and a five-pitch walk drawn by Michael Chavis, Moreland came through in the clutch yet again, beating the shift with another RBI single up the middle to drive in Devers from third and give his team a lead they would not have to look back from.
Three batters and one Jackie Bradley Jr. walk to load the bases later, Eduardo Nunez, pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon, knocked in Boston’s fourth run of the afternoon with a little RBI dribbler down the third base line that barely stayed fair. 4-2 and keeping the line moving.
With the lineup turning back over, Chicago turned to left-hander Caleb Frare in relief of Herrera, and he walked the lone hitter he faced in Andrew Benintendi by nearly striking him in the head with a wild pitch. Regardless, Moreland scored and the Red Sox had a 5-2 lead.
That three-run lead would not last long though, as Xander Bogaerts essentially put this game on ice by greeting new White Sox reliever Juan Minaya with his first grand slam and sixth homer of the season.
The Red Sox’ second granny of 2019 belongs to Bogaerts, and it all but sealed a 9-2 win to close out a successful weekend in the Windy City.
Some notes from this win:
In his last five games, Rafael Devers is slashing .364/.400/.591 with one home run and six RBI.
Michael Chavis may not have recorded a hit on Sunday, but he did make this outstanding diving play in shallow right field in the eighth inning.
The Red Sox are 8-3 in their last 11 games.
Unbeaten in their last two series, the Red Sox will head to Baltimore for the first time in 2019 for a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles scheduled to begin on Monday.
31-year-old right hander Josh Smith will get the start for Boston, while lefty John Means will do the same for Baltimore.
Recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 26th, Smith closed out Boston’s 6-1 win over the White Sox this past Friday in his only big league appearance so far this season.
Means, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 6.48 ERA over two career outings (one start) and 8.1 innings against the Red Sox.
First pitch of the series opener Monday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.