After seeing their five-game winning streak come to an end following a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the Red Sox were unable to avoid the quick two-game sweep on Wednesday, as they fell to the Phils by a final score of 5-2, marking their second consecutive loss, to drop back down to 67-61 on the season.
Making his 26th start of the season for Boston and second of the interleague variety was Rick Porcello, who came into the week having allowed exactly one run in two of his last three outings going back to the beginning of August.
Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.
All three of those Philadelphia runs came across to score in the top half of the fifth, when after retiring 12 of the first 16 hitters he faced, Porcello served up a leadoff double to Cesar Hernandez to begin the inning.
With Adam Haseley at the plate, a wild pitch from Porcello on the fifth pitch of the at-bat allowed Hernandez to advance up to third, and a missed catch error on the part of Rafael Devers trying to receive a throw from Christian Vazquez allowed the runner to score his side’s first run.
Haseley wound up drawing an eight-pitch walk, which set up Bryce Harper two batters later with a runner at first.
On the fourth pitch he saw from the New Jersey native, Harper unloaded on a 1-2, 87 MPH slider down the heart of the plate and sent it 377 feet over the Green Monster for his second career Fenway Park home run and first career hit off of Porcello in 10 tries.
That go-ahead two-run blast put the Phillies up 3-2, and Porcello’s evening would quickly come to a close after he managed to get the final two outs of the fifth in order.
Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 100 (65 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 47% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 92.2 MPH with the pitch while Vazquez was behind the plate.
Ultimately falling to 11-10 while keeping his ERA on the season at 5.49, Porcello’s next start should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.
In relief of Porcello, Ryan Braiser got the first call out of the Boston bullpen for the top half of the sixth, and he worked his way around a leadoff single and two-out walk in a scoreless frame.
From there, Andrew Cashner allowed his first run in his fourth appearance with the Sox as a reliever on a two-out, RBI triple from Corey Dickerson in the seventh, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez walked one and punched out two in a scoreless eighth, and Brandon Workman allowed his side’s deficit to increase to three on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of Dickerson in the ninth.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies left-hander Drew Smyly, someone who joined the Philadelphia pitching staff in July after spending time with both the Texas Rangers and, to a lesser extent, the Milwaukee Brewers this season.
Kicking off the scoring right away in the bottom of the first, back-to-back doubles from Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers got the Sox on the board before an out had even been recorded.
An inning later, a red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came through with two outs and the bases empty, as he took Smyly deep to right off a 2-2, 87 MPH cutter on the outer half of the plate for his 16th big fly of the season and fourth in his last seven games.
In the fourth, a leadoff double from Andrew Benintendi and infield single from Sam Travis put runners at first and second with no outs for the bottom half of the lineup.
Vazquez responded well enough by advancing both runners 90 feet on a successful sacrifice bunt and Marco Hernandez drew a walk on five pitches, bringing Bradley Jr. to the plate with one out and the bases full.
All Bradley Jr. could do in this trip to the plate against Smyly was fan on four pitches, which led to a Phillies pitching change with the Red Sox’ lineup turning over.
Facing off against right-hander Jared Hughes for the first time in his career, Betts got ahead in the count at 2-0, but was unable to deliver, as he grounded out to third to extinguish the threat.
Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with left-hander Jose Alvarez in for Philadelphia and runners at second and third for Boston following a two-out double from Vazquez, Sox manager Alex Cora decided to go to his bench with his team only trailing by two runs.
So, in came the right-handed hitting Chris Owings in the place of the left-handed hitting Hernandez.
Owings, in just his 13th plate appearance with the Red Sox, fouled off the first pitch he saw from Alvarez before taking the second for a called strike. A third-pitch ball didn’t change much, as Owings whiffed on a 1-2, 84 MPH changeup on the outer half of the plate for the final out of the inning.
And in the ninth, Bradley Jr., Betts, and Devers, went down quietly against Phillies closer Hector Neris to put the finishing touches on a 5-2 defeat.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. They left nine men on base as a team.
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .320/.333/.880 with four homers and six RBI.
With the Tampa Bay Rays topping the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, the Red Sox now stand seven games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot.
What was once a five-game winning streak has now turned into a two-game skid. That’s pretty much been the story for the 2019 Boston Red Sox.
Next up for the Sox, they’ll pick up where things left off against the Kansas City Royals back on August 7th, as the two sides will resume things in the top half of the 10th inning of a 4-4 contest on Thursday afternoon.
Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria was at the plate ahead in a 2-1 count against left-hander Josh Taylor, who, according to Speier, does not need to “start” the resumed game.
“First pitch” Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going a unique and unusual win.