After taking a competitive series from the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday and an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox picked up where they left off by opening up a three-game weekend set against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday with a 9-1 win to mark their third consecutive victory.
Making his 25th start of the season for Boston and second against Baltimore was Rick Porcello, who came into the weekend fresh off allowing five runs on five hits over five innings in his last time out against the Los Angeles Angels.
Working six full frames this time around to surpass the 2,000 mark for his career, the right-hander yielded just one earned while scattering four hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.
That lone Orioles tally came in the the top half of the third inning, when with two outs and Jonathan Villar at first following a two-out single, Trey Mancini laced an RBI double to right field off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seam fastball from Porcello to put his team on the board.
Other than that one blip though, Porcello escaped the third by fanning Anthony Santander on three pitches before retiring eight of the final 11 Orioles he faced from the beginning of the fourth up until the middle of the sixth, which is the point where his evening came to an encouraging close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (47 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 38% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 91.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Eventually earning his 11th winning decision while lowering his ERA on the year to 5.49, Porcello’s next start should come against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
In relief of Porcello, left-hander Josh Taylor entered the seventh inning with a brand new five-run lead to protect, and he did so by needing just 11 pitches to sit down the side in order.
From there, the recently called up Travis Lakins saw this one through to its completion by working his way around a leadoff single and one-out walk in the eighth before punching out the side in the ninth to secure the 9-1 victory.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles right-hander Aaron Brooks, someone they faced twice in April when he was a member of the Oakland Athletics pitching staff.
Perhaps aided by that level of familiarity, a Mookie Betts double to lead things off the first set up Rafael Devers right away with a runner in scoring position.
On the fifth pitch he saw from Brooks, a 2-2, 86 MPH changeup on the outer edge of the plate, the red-hot Devers managed to rip an RBI single to the opposite field to get his side on the board first.
Fast forward to the fourth, after Baltimore came back to tie things up at one run apiece, and Andrew Benintendi took that lead back by driving in J.D. Martinez from second on a one-out, run-scoring triple to the triangle.
Two batters later, Mitch Moreland followed that Benintendi triple with an RBI three-bagger of his own, this one coming with two outs and on a pop fly to right field to make it a 3-1 contest.
In the sixth, a Martinez HBP, a Benintendi single, and Christian Vazquez sacrifice bunt set up the pinch-hitting Sam Travis with runners at second and third against new O’s reliever Richard Bleier.
Travis was put on intentionally, filling the bases for another pinch-hitter in the form of Chris Owings.
Having not played since going 0-for-5 in his Sox debut this past Sunday, Owings made up for that by plating a pair on a two-run double to left off the first pitch he saw from Bleier. Owing’s first hit in a Red Sox uniform put his new team ahead 5-1.
Jackie Bradley Jr. added on to that lead with a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Travis from third, and just like that, Boston had themselves a five-run lead.
An inning later, up against Tom Eshelman, a Devers leadoff walk and Bogaerts double put runners in scoring position once again for Martinez, who came through with yet another sac fly, driving in Devers from third.
Benintendi followed with his third hit and second of the extra-base hit variety, plating Bogaerts from third on an RBI double to give the Sox a seven-run advantage.
And in the eighth, Betts put the exclamation point on this blowout by mashing his 21st home run of the season with two outs in the inning.
That 358-foot blast over the Green Monster gave the Red Sox a 9-1 lead, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
From Red Sox Stats:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:
Rafael Devers’ last six games: 15-for-28 (.536) with six doubles, two home runs, and eight RBI.
Andrew Benintendi’s August thus far: .356/.406/.593 with nine doubles, one homer, and nine RBI. He has multiple hits in four of his last five games.
With their winning streak now at three, the Red Sox currently sit 6 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card Spot.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday night.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston, while right-hander Asher Wojciechowski will do the same for Baltimore.
Rodriguez surrendered a season-high 10 hits in his last time out against the Cleveland Indians on Monday before being hit with the no-decision.
In two outings against the organization he began his pro career with this season, the 26-year-old is 2-0 with a minuscule 1.98 ERA and .188 batting average against over 13 2/3 quality innings of work.
Wojciechowski, meanwhile, held the Sox scoreless while taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 5-0 win for the O’s in Baltimore back on July 21st.
The 30-year-old has since allowed 14 runs over his last four starts and 21 2/3 innings pitched. He has never made an appearance at Fenway Park.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.