The Red Sox entered Wednesday losers of their last three and 1-5 on their current eight-game homestand. They had fallen eight games off the pace for first place in the American League East and three games back of the second wild card spot. It’s only June 12th, but I don’t think it’s an understatement to say they needed this 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers, especially after blowing another late lead and bouncing back from it.
Making his 14th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who came into this one having given up nine earned runs over his last 10 2/3 innings going back to the beginning of the month.
Working his way into the seventh inning this time around, the right-hander limited the Rangers to just two runs, both of which were earned, on five hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the evening.
Both of those Rangers tallies came right away in the first, when after recording the first two outs of the frame in pretty seamless fashion, three straight hits from Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, and Hunter Pence, who drove in both runners on base with a two-run double, put the Red Sox down a pair early.
From there though, Porcello certainly recovered nicely, stringing together 15 consecutive outs before yielding a two-out double to Andrus in the sixth. Nothing came out of that.
In what would turn out to be his final inning, the New Jersey native was only one pitch away from retiring the side by fanning Rougned Odor on five pitches, but the Rangers second baseman won the battle, ripped a single to center, and that is how Porcello’s outing came to a close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 39% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 93.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 23 times while Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, was behind the plate.
Hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the season dipped down to a nice 4.69, Porcello will look to build on his first quality outing of June in his next time out, which should come against the Minnesota Twins.
In relief of Porcello, Brandon Workman came on with one out to get in the seventh and stranded the inherited runner at first by punching out Ronald Guzman on four pitches.
The eighth inning for Workman though, well, that was a different story, and it started by him plunking Choo with one out in the inning.
A successful sacrifice bunt off the bat of the speedy Delino Deshields Jr. that was misplayed by Christian Vazquez on a poor throw to first put runners in scoring position for Texas.
A sacrifice fly from Andrus two pitches later allowed Choo to score from third, and this contest was knotted up at three runs a piece.
Fortunately for Boston, unlike some recent nights have gone, Workman escaped the eighth with the tie still intact, and that would turn out to be the last run surrendered by a Red Sox pitcher.
That being the case because Matt Barnes maneuvered his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean ninth to set up the walk-off shortly thereafter.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn, who came into Wednesday with a solid track record in three prior appearances at Fenway Park.
Staring the scoring for Boston following a two-run first for Texas was Rafael Devers, whose two-out RBI single plated Andrew Benintendi from second to cut that deficit in half immediately.
Fast forward to the third, a leadoff walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. almost went in vain before Andrew Benintendi drove him in with his second of three extra base hits on the day, this one a two-out RBI triple to pull his team even with the Rangers at two runs each.
In the fifth, it was more of the same from Benintendi, as the Sox outfielder worked some more two-out magic and drilled an RBI single on the first pitch he saw from Lynn, an 80 MPH curveball on the lower half of the strike zone, to advance Michael Chavis from first all the way to home to pull ahead of the Rangers by one run at 3-2.
And in the ninth, after Texas plated their third run in their half of the eighth, it was down to the bottom of the Sox order against right-hander Jesse Chavez.
Christian Vazquez kicked off the late push by lacing a leadoff ground-rule double into Boston’s bullpen, and he was subbed out for the quicker Marco Hernandez as a pinch-runner.
One Bradley Jr. bloop single to move Hernandez up to third and Michael Chavis walk later, Mookie Betts came to the plate with the chance to send his side home victorious with the winning run just 90 feet away.
With nine previous meetings against Chavez under his belt, Betts hardly had to do anything in this particular at-bat, taking four straight balls following a first pitch foul to draw the walk and plate Hernandez from third.
Red Sox walk it off in anticlimactic fashion and snap their three-game skid with a 4-3 win.
Some notes from this win:
Andrew Benintendi in June: .333/.378/.571 with five doubles, one triple, one home run, and five RBI.
JD Martinez struck out four times Wednesday, the first time he’s done that in a game since the 2015 season.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series Thursday night before the team embarks on a two-city, six-game road trip.
Left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston in the fourth and final contest, while right-hander Adrian Sampson will do the same for Texas.
Both starters have been stellar for their respective clubs recently, with Price posting a 1.13 ERA over his last five starts and Sampson posting an ERA of 1.99 over that same span, including a complete game four-hitter in his last time out against the Oakland Athletics.
In 15 career starts against the Rangers, Price is 4-6 with a 5.63 ERA over 84.2 total innings pitched.
Sampson, meanwhile, has not faced the Red Sox since he made his big league debut with the Seattle Mariners back on June 18th, 2016, where he allowed four runs in less than five innings in a losing effort at Fenway Park.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the split.