After salvaging their series against the Houston Astros on Sunday to cap off a 4-3 road trip, the Red Sox opened up a quick three-game series at Fenway Park with the Cleveland Indians on Monday before hitting the road yet again, topping the Tribe by a final score of 12-5 to celebrate Memorial Day.
Making his 11th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, fresh off six one-run innings in his last time out against the Blue Jays.
Pitching into the seventh inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered five runs, three of which were earned, on eight hits, three walks, and one HBP to go along with four strikeouts on the evening.
From the jump, it looked as though Porcello’s outing would be short-lived, as he allowed four of the first five hitters he faced to reach base, granted a fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts on an Oscar Mercado hard-hit grounder permitted that to happen.
A one-out RBI single from Jason Kipnis, followed by Jake Bauers taking a 76 MPH curveball off his foot and Roberto Perez scoring Mercado from third on an RBI 6-4 forceout, put the Indians ahead by two early.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, Porcello bounced back from there, only allowing one more Cleveland run to cross the plate on another RBI groundout from Bauers in the third leading into his final frame of work in the seventh. He also received some defensive help with a pair of potential run-preventing web gems from Mookie Betts and Brock Holt in the fifth.
There, in the seventh, after sitting down five of the last six batters he had faced, it was the top half of the Indians lineup that gave the New Jersey native more trouble, with Mercado leading the inning off with a sharp groundball single and Kipnis advancing him to third on a one-out double.
One mound visit and a five-pitch strikeout of Bauers later, Porcello was just one out away from getting out of another jam.
A las, Perez struck again by driving in Mercado once more to make it a 10-4 contest, and that is how Porcello’s day would come to a conclusion.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 110 (73 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 36% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 92.9 MPH with the pitch.
Eventually earning his fourth winning decision while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.41, Porcello will look for win number five in his next time out, which will come against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium sometime this upcoming weekend.
In relief of Porcello, Heath Hembree came on with men on first and third and allowed one of those inherited runners to score on an RBI double off the bat of Mike Freeman, officially closing the book on Porcello’s outing, before retiring the side by getting Greg Allen to fly out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center.
From there, Ryan Brasier sat down the only three hitters he faced in order in a clean eighth inning of work, while Hector Velazquez closed the door on the Tribe with a scoreless ninth to wrap up a lopsided 12-5 victory for his team.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Jefry Rodriguez for the Indians, who before Monday, had never pitched against Boston before in his young career.
After going down by three runs early, it was the top of the lineup that got the scoring started for Boston in their half of the third, with Andrew Benintendi drawing a two-out walk off of Rodriguez and Mookie Betts scoring him from second on an RBI single that resulted in the reigning AL MVP advancing all the way to third thanks to a defensive miscue from Mercado out in right field.
Because of the two-base error that let him move up without any trouble, a wild pitch from Rodriguez with Rafael Devers at the plate allowed Betts to come in and score from third. Just like that, it was a one-run game.
An inning later, a string of three straight one-out singles, capped off by an RBI knock from Brock Holt in his return from the 10-day injured list, plated Xander Bogaerts from third and tied this contest at three runs a piece.
In the fifth, it was more of the same, with Mookie Betts singling and reaching second on a balk to leadoff the frame and Rafael Devers driving him in on a line drive RBI double to center to put his team ahead and extend his hitting-streak to eight games.
Another double, this one coming from Xander Bogaerts, allowed Devers to come in from second and make it a 5-3 game.
Following an intentional walk of Michael Chavis and a pitching change that saw veteran left-hander Oliver Perez take over for Rodriguez, Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his run of recent success at the plate by ripping another RBI double, this one hit to center field to score Bogaerts and give the Sox a three-run advantage.
That three-run edge would be doubled moments later though, as Sandy Leon came through with a three-run big fly on a 3-2 slider from Perez to put his team ahead 9-3. Both of Leon’s home runs this season have gone for three runs and both have been hit over the Green Monster.
In the sixth, with right-hander Dan Otero in for Cleveland, JD Martinez broke out of a recent offensive slump my mashing his first of two home runs on the day, with this one getting some help from Oscar Mercado out in right field to put the Red Sox ahead 10-3.
Fast forward to the seventh, Bradley Jr. collected his second RBI of the evening on his second double, with this one coming off rookie Josh Smith to plate Brock Holt from first. 11-5.
And in the eighth, Martinez put the exclamation point on this blowout win by taking Indians right-hander Adam Cimber deep to left field for his second dinger of the day and 11th of the season, a 387 foot shot over the Monster to give the Red Sox the 12-5 advantage, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
Over the course of his eight-game hitting streak, Rafael Devers is slashing .417/.432/.833 with four home runs and nine RBI.
In his last eight games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is batting .290 to go along with an OPS of 1.081 while also hitting three home runs and collecting six RBI over that span.
Brock Holt in his first big league game since April 5th: 1-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Andrew Benintendi was the only Red Sox not to record a base hit on Monday, but he did reach base twice on a pair of walks.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this series Tuesday night.
David Price, after departing from his last start against the Astros on Saturday due to flu-like symptoms, is set to get the ball for Boston, while rookie right-hander Zach Plesac will do the same for Cleveland in his major league debut.
Price only threw 15 pitches in Houston over the weekend, and by the way he was talking to reporters, it seems as though he was willing to tough it out, although Sox manager Alex Cora did not feel the same way.
So, after only two full days of rest, it will be the left-hander making his ninth start of the season.
In his career against the Indians, Price is 11-2 with a lifetime 2.06 ERA over 15 starts and 100.1 total innings pitched.
Plesac, meanwhile, has posted a minuscule 1.91 ERA over nine starts between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus this season. He was recalled from Triple-A Tuesday.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN, weather permitting. Red Sox going for their third straight win.