After taking two out of three from the Tampa Bay Rays to cap off a six-game road trip on Wednesday, the Red Sox welcomed the American League East-leading New York Yankees into Fenway Park for the first time this season and opened up a four-game weekend series on Thursday with a blowout 19-3 victory over their divisional foes.
Making his 21st start of the season for Boston and third against New York was Rick Porcello, who could only make it through 1/3 of an inning the last time he faced off against the Bronx Bombers back on June 29th in London.
Tossing six full innings this time around, the right-hander yielded just three runs, all earned, on six hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.
The first pair of those Yankees runs came across to score in the top half of the second, when following four straight outs to begin his outing, Porcello fell victim to a string of four straight one-out hits from Didi Gregorius, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, which plated Gregorius, and Mike Tauchman, which filled the bases.
An eight pitch punchout of Kyle Higashioka, as well as getting ahead in the count at 0-2 against D.J. LeMahieu meant that Porcello was just one pitch away from escaping the jam, but the New Jersey native lost the Yankees’ leadoff man on ball four, and Voit scored as a result.
Fortunately for Boston, Porcello rebounded by getting the always dangerous Aaron Judge to fly out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in deep center field, and that extinguished the threat.
In total, Porcello needed 47 pitches to get through a strenuous second, but he relatively cruised from there, as he sat down the next six Yankees he faced before serving up a solo shot to Higashioka in the fifth.
Outside of that one blip, Porcello retired the side in order in that fifth inning and worked his way around a two-out double in an otherwise 1-2-3 top of the sixth, where his evening came to an impressive close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (76 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball 34% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing six swings and misses and topping out at 92.6 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Ultimately improving to 9-7 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 5.55, Porcello continues to be the benefactor of a high volume of run support and has thus improved to 4-0 since the start of July. He’ll look to keep that run going in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
In relief of Porcello, rookie left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez came on in the seventh with his team ahead by a sizable margin, and he fanned two in a clean inning.
Colten Brewer did the same while punching out one in the eighth, and Nathan Eovaldi bounced back from a rough debut out of the bullpen on Monday by hurling a scoreless ninth inning to secure the 19-3 win for his club.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who was also Porcello’s opponent when these two clubs met up in London.
Unlike Porcello though, Tanaka did not bounce back from a rough experience across the pond. It was almost the exact opposite of that, really.
Kicking off the scoring right away for Boston in the bottom of the first, a Mookie Betts leadoff single and Rafael Devers walk set up Xander Bogaerts in an early RBI spot.
Bogaerts, after working a 3-1 count in his favor, absolutely demolished a 93 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate and deposited it 451 feet over the Green Monster. His 22nd home run of the season, this one good for three runs, was also the longest of his career.
A string of three straight hits from Andrew Benintendi, Brock Holt, and Mitch Moreland sandwiched in between the first two outs of the inning brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate.
Coming into Thursday 0-for-his-last-13, Bradley Jr. broke out of that slump immediately, as he laced a two-run double down the right field line to bring in two runs and move Moreland up to third for Betts yet again.
On the first pitch of his second at-bat against Tanaka already, the reigning MVP cleared the bases with a two-run two-bagger of his own off a 92 MPH sinker. Just like that, the Red Sox were ahead 7-0.
Fast forward to the fourth, with it now a 7-2 contest, and Devers began the charge to re-widen the gap by leading off the inning with his 21st big fly of the year off a first-pitch, 92 MPH heater on the outer half of the plate that was sent 437 feet over everything in left.
A Bogaerts single and one-out walk drawn by Benintendi put a runner in scoring position for the just-inserted Michael Chavis, who replaced Holt after he was ejected by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn for arguing balls and strikes in the third.
Anyway, Chavis took advantage of this opportunity, as he blooped an RBI double just deep enough to left to drive in Bogaerts and advance Benintendi to third.
Moreland extended his side’s lead to 11-2 by ripping a two-run, ground-rule double to right, and that was how Tanaka’s night ended.
Facing off against lefty Stephen Tarpley now, Christian Vazquez picked up where Chavis and Moreland had left off by lacing a two-run double of his own down the left field corner, scoring Moreland and making it a 10-run game at 12-2.
An inning later, four straight knocks from Bogaerts, Martinez, Benintendi, and Chavis to lead off the fifth against Tarpley brought in two more Boston runs, with Benintendi and Chavis picking up their first and second RBI of the contest respectively.
Vazquez brought in run number 15 on a grounder to short that gave Benintendi more than enough time to score from third, and the Red Sox had themselves a 15-3 advantage.
In the sixth, Devers greeted new Yankees reliever Luis Cessa by collecting his second RBI on a double to right that allowed Betts to score all the way from first following a leadoff walk. Devers was caught trying to turn that double into a triple, though.
Finally, in the eighth, with catcher Austin Romine on the mound for New York, Bradley Jr. led things off with a double, and Sandy Leon, in his first and only at-bat of the night, scored him, as well as himself, on his fourth homer of the season. This one marking the second time in the past week that the backstop has taken an opposing position player yard.
Fittingly, the man who got the Red Sox on the board also wrapped up an exciting offensive outpouring, as Bogaerts too took Romine deep to left-center for his second dinger of the day and 23rd of the season to tie his previous career-high.
That put Boston ahead 19-3, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:
From Red Sox Stats:
Xander Bogaerts’ last 15 games: .419/.478/.790 with six home runs and 17 RBI.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this four-game weekend series on Friday night.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander James Paxton will do the same for New York.
In his first two starts with the Red Sox, Cashner is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA over 11 innings pitched.
When he was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the month, one of the first things Cashner told the Boston media is that he’s, “looking forward to playing the Yankees.” He’ll have the chance to prove he can handle the American League East’s top team on Friday.
In his career against the Yankees, the 32-year-old is 2-5 with a 3.96 lifetime ERA and .247 batting average against over 10 starts and 61 1/3 innings of work.
Paxton, meanwhile, has not been the same pitcher he was earlier in the year since he was shelved with inflammation in his left knee back in early May.
In 10 starts since his return on May 29th, the 30-year-old has posted a 5.06 ERA and .303 batting average against over his last 48 innings pitched. That includes surrendering seven runs, only four of which were earned, in his last time out against the Colorado Rockies on July 21st.
Paxton has never pitched at Fenway Park before in his career. Against the Red Sox, he owns a lifetime 1.89 ERA over five prior starts and 33 1/3 innings pitched, including an eight-inning shutout back on April 16th of this year at Yankee Stadium.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their second straight win.