After an ‘unacceptable’ 11-2 loss to open a three-game weekend series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, blowing out their divisional foes by a final score of 17-6 to improve to 54-45 on the season.
Making his 20th start of the season for Boston and second against Baltimore was Rick Porcello, coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs in six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in a win this past Monday.
Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander, like David Price before him, got shelled for six runs, all of which were earned, on a season-high 11 hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the night.
The first five of those six Orioles tallies came in the bottom half of the third, when after his team had jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, Porcello gave it right back by serving up a one-run double to Trey Mancini to cap off a string of three straight hitters reaching base to begin the inning, a one-out, three-run home run to Renato Nunez off a 1-0, 81 MPH changeup, and a two-out RBI single to Chris Davis.
Those three hits resulted in the Red Sox’ initial five-run advantage completely disappearing, but fortunately for Porcello, his side tacked on a total off 11 runs over the next two innings, and he did not give that lead up.
The only other damage the Orioles got off Porcello took place in the fifth, when with two outs and the bases empty, outfielder Anthony Santander stayed hot and took the New Jersey native deep to right on an 0-2, 84 MPH slider on the inner half of the plate for his second homer in as many days.
Porcello was just one pitch away from his first 1-2-3 inning, but instead yielded hits to three of the last four Orioles he faced and wrapped up the fifth by getting Richie Martin to ground out to second.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball more than 31% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing one swing and miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.2 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 26 times and got four whiffs on while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Ultimately picking up his eighth winning decision of the season despite his ERA inflating to 5.61, July has not been Porcello’s best month, as he owns a 8.64 ERA over his last three starts. As it turns out though, the Sox are 3-0 in those games. Porcello’s next start should come against the New York Yankees on Thursday.
In relief of Porcello, Heath Hembree entered in the middle of the sixth with a cushy 10-run lead to protect, and he retired the side in order.
From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez punched out the side, walked one, and gave up a hit to another in the seventh in his third appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on the 16th, fellow lefty Josh Taylor worked his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise perfect eighth, and Colten Brewer finished things off with a clean ninth inning to secure the 17-6 blowout victory for the Red Sox.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles rookie right-hander Tom Eshelman, making his third career big league start and first against a team besides the Tampa Bay Rays.
A leadoff single from J.D. Martinez would turn out to be the catalyst for a huge four-run second inning, with Andrew Benintendi reaching base on a four-pitch walk, and Christian Vazquez getting his team on the board first with an RBI single to left, driving in Martinez all the way from second.
Jackie Bradley Jr., with a large group of family and friends in attendance, padded that early lead by blasting his 10th home run of the season, a 410-foot, three-run shot off a first-pitch 76 MPH curveball from Eshelman.
An inning later, Rafael Devers reached the 20-homer plateau for the second straight season, as he led off the third by taking Eshelman deep to right off a 3-2, 86 MPH two-seamer right down Broadway.
That gave the Red Sox an early five-run lead, and it looked like they were on their way to running away with this one. They eventually did, but not before the Orioles made this a new game with a five-run frame of their own in their half of the third.
The 5-5 stalemate did not last long, though. Not with Michael Chavis reaching first on a one-out throwing error in the fourth and Mookie Betts plating him, as well as himself, on his 15th big fly of the year. This one sent 364 feet over the left field fence to give the Red Sox a new 7-5 lead.
A pitching change following a Devers walk and Xander Bogaerts single saw Jimmy Yacabonis take over for Eshelman, and he was immediately greeted by Martinez, who ripped his second hit of the night, a two-run double to left, to score both Devers and Bogaerts. 9-5.
A wild pitch with Benintendi at the plate allowed Martinez to advance to third easily, and Vazquez capitalized on Baltimore’s miscue by collecting his second RBI of the contest on a bloop single to left. 10-5.
With runners at first and second and still one out to get, Bradley Jr. laced an 0-2, 86 MPH slider from Yacabonis and just snuck his second three-run homer of the night off the right field foul pole.
Per Statcast, Bradley Jr.’s 11th dinger of 2019 had an exit velocity of 99.9 MPH, good enough to put the Red Sox up 13-5.
In the fifth, a Brock Holt leadoff double resulted in three more Boston runs crossing the plate, with Betts, Devers, and Bogaerts stringing together back-to-back-to-back RBI hits off Yacabonis, making it an 11-run contest in the process of doing so.
Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with outfielder Stevie Wilkerson pitching for the O’s, Sandy Leon, who entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh, put this one to bed by blasting home run number three on the season off a 1-0, 55(!!!) MPH slider.
Leon’s first non-three-run shot of the year gave the Red Sox the 17-6 lead, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
Michael Chavis left in the fifth inning Saturday due to back spasms. He won’t play tomorrow, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora isn’t too concerned.
From Red Sox Notes:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
Rafael Devers’ July to this point: .333/.408/.794 with eight home runs and 25 RBI.
Xander Bogaerts’ last seven games: .500/.559/.767 with two homers and five RBI.
Mookie Betts, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games on Saturday, is slashing .426/.493/.672 with two homers, 10 RBI, and 10 walks over his last 15 games.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the final game of this weekend series on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner gets the start for Boston against his former club, while fellow righty Asher Wojciechowski will do the Same for Baltimore.
Fresh off a five-inning, five-run performance in his Red Sox debut last Tuesday, Cashner made 17 starts with the O’s before being traded on July 13th.
In his career at Camden Yards, the 32-year-old is 6-8 with a lifetime 4.49 ERA and .260 batting average against over 22 starts and 130 1/3 total innings pitched.
Wojciechowski, meanwhile, brings with him a 5.74 ERA over four appearances (three starts) and 15 2/3 innings of work on the 2019 season.
The 30-year-old has only faced off against Boston one time, and that came back in September of 2017 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. In that one appearance, Wojciechowski tossed two scoreless innings of relief in an eventual 5-4 loss.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for a much-needed series win.