RECAP: Rick Porcello Serves up Five Runs on Three Homers as #RedSox Drop Opener to Indians.

After taking two out of three from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox welcomed the American League Central leading Cleveland Indians into town for a four-game series between two teams vying for an AL pennant.

In the series opener, it was a starting pitching matchup that featured two decorated right-handers in Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, for Cleveland and Rick Porcello, who received the same honor in 2016, for Boston.

Porcello, coming off a fine effort in his last time out against the Phillies and making the 300th start of this career, took the mound for the 26th time this season, and he was struck hard by the home run ball.

Tossing seven full innings in this one, all five runs surrendered by the righty came on three separate Indians home runs, all of which came after the fourth.

Through the first four frames, Porcello was nearly untouchable, as he sat down 12 of the first 14 batters he faced while his team jumped out to an early three-run advantage.

The fifth inning though, is where things started to go awry for the New Jersey native and it began with a leadoff home run off the bat of veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who is in his second stint with the Indians this season.

After retiring the next three batters he faced, a Francisco Lindor single to begin the sixth would later turn into another pair of runs for Cleveland two pitches later when Michael Brantley, another outfielder, punished a 1-0 slider for his 14th homer of the season. And just like that, this game was momentarily tied.

Momentarily, because an inning later, with his pitch count inching closer and closer to 100, Porcello gave up another two-run shot, but not before taking a Yan Gomes comebacker that had an exit velocity of 95.2 MPH off his chest.

I’m not going to sit here and say that Porcello should have come out after that, because he was able to recover and get an out at second, but what transpired after he was left in was not all that encouraging.

Yes, that two-run home run off the bat of Indians rookie Greg Allen put Cleveland up 5-3, which is all they would need to pick up the win. Porcello did stay in to finish the seventh, which is how his night would come to an end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (74 strikes), the New Jersey native ended up with six strikeouts on the night to go along with one walk and a season-high three home runs given up in this one.

Out of those 107 pitches, Porcello turned to his fastball, two-seam and four-seam, a combined 49% of the time on Monday and topped out at 94 MPH with that four-seamer in the second inning.

In four starts this month, we have truly seen the highs and the lows of what is Rick Porcello.

8/3 vs. NYY: 9 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 9 K
8/9 @ TOR: 4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 5 K
8/14 @PHI: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 10 K
8/20 vs. CLE: 7 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 1 BB, 6 K

He’ll look to return to that same form he had against the Yankees and Phillies in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays sometime next weekend.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the eighth and ninth innings of last night’s contest, and Tyler Thornburg and Drew Pomeranz did their jobs by holding the Indians scoreless with two combined strikeouts in that span.

On the other side of things, matched up against one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and all, the Red Sox lineup pounced early but did not have much to show for the remainder of the evening.

Entering Monday with a 3.96 ERA in four career at starts at Fenway Park, Kluber certainly had his fair share of struggles early, but like the ace he is, settled down eventually.

Starting the scoring right away in the first, three straight hits from Mitch Moreland, JD Martinez, and a two RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts plated Boston’s first two runs.

An inning later, another round of three straight hits, this time from Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and an Andrew Benintendi RBI single, his 71st of the season, tacked on another run to that Red Sox lead to make it a 3-0 game, but that is all they would end up with off of Kluber going into the seventh.

Fast forward to the ninth, trailing by two runs with Indians closer Cody Allen on the mound, a Mookie Betts leadoff double followed by a seven pitch walk of Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox in a prime spot for a comeback win.

After Mitch Moreland grounded into a force out and JD Martinez popped out to first, it all came down to Xander Bogaerts, who scored Betts from third on an infield single to make it a one-run contest.

With the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first, Ian Kinsler came to the plate with the opportunity to have his first big moment in a Red Sox uniform, but he could only drop his bat in disgust after flying out to left on the eighth pitch of a tough at bat for the final out of the night.

Some notes from this one:

The Red Sox have lost consecutive games for the first time since July 24-26. They have scored five runs in their last 26 innings.

In the month of August, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .326/.458/.543 with one home run and 12 RBI over 15 games played.

Looking to even things up later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston. He owns a career 2.70 ERA in 16.2 career innings pitched against the Indians.

Matched up against Eovaldi will be rookie hurler RHP Shane Bieber for Cleveland. Bieber, 23, as you may have guessed, has never faced the Red Sox in his short career, but does own a 4.37 ERA in 12 games started in his first big league season.

First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Tuesday.

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RECAP: #RedSox End Road Trip with 7-4 Loss in Philadelphia Following Tough Night for Bullpen.

After taking the first of two against the Philadelphia Phillies in a close 2-1 win on Tuesday night, the Red Sox looked to end their nine-game road trip on a positive note on Wednesday, but that simply was not the case.

Making his fourth start of the season with the Red Sox in this one, Nathan Eovaldi took a step in the right direction five days after the Baltimore Orioles lit him up for eight runs on 10 hits last Friday.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander surrendered three runs, one of which was earned, while scattering seven hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

As he faced four hitters each in what went down as three pretty smooth frames, the bottom half of the fourth did not treat Eovaldi as nicely.

The worst part about a three-run rally for the Phillies that tied the game in that fourth inning was the fact that it was all started by a throwing error.

Yes, Rafael Devers, who leads the team in errors, could not make the throw over to first in what appeared to be a 5-3 put out at first on a Rhys Hoskins grounder to leadoff the inning.

From that point, three of the next five Phillies Eovaldi faced managed to reach base, and thanks to RBI knocks from Wilson Ramos and Carlos Santana and a RBI groundout from Odubel Herrera, this game was tied at three runs a piece heading into the fifth.

Fortunately for Boston, the Texas native ended his night on a solid note by sitting down three of the final four batters he faced on Tuesday.

Had this game not been played in a National League ballpark, Eovaldi probably could have pitched further, but with his spot in the lineup due up with runners at first and second in a tied game in the sixth, going with the pinch-hitter was clearly the right choice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (61 strikes) the 28-year-old turned to his cut-fastball about 43% of the time he was on the mound last night, which resulted in just three swings and misses. He also topped out at 99 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 27 times, in his fifth and final inning of work.

Now with 14 starts under his belt this season, Eovaldi will look to build on a solid outing in his next time out, which should come sometime against the Cleveland Indians next week.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen, mainly Joe Kelly and Drew Pomeranz, did not have the best of nights in the City of Brotherly Love.

Kelly, who got the call for the sixth in his sixth appearance of August, allowed what would turn out to be the go-ahead run for the Phillies in the form of a Scott Kingery sac fly that scored Wilson Ramos from third.

Speaking of Ramos, the former Rays backstop was making his first start with the Phillies since being traded there in July, and he went 3/4 with three RBI in another great day at the plate against the Red Sox, something he has become accustomed to.

Anyway, Kelly gave up the run to bump his ERA on the season up to 4.29 and he would later be dealt his fourth losing decision of the year as well because of it.

Drew Pomeranz made his third relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen last week, and it was certainly his worst of the three.

In what has the chance to be his last outing in a Red Sox uniform, the lefty allowed the Phils to score THREE times in one inning, which essentially, despite their best effort, put this game out of reach for Boston.

During that seventh inning, it was clear that Pomeranz was struggling to locate his pitches, as he left a lot of them up in the strike zone. Topping out at 91.5 MPH with your four-seam fastball is not the best of signs either.

Finally, with his team trailing by three, Hector Velazquez sat down the only three batters he faced in the eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was without Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot and matched up against Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez.

Velasquez, 26, had only made one career start against Boston prior to Wednesday night, and that came all the way back in 2015.

Starting the scoring in the third inning of this one, a one out walk drawn by Nathan Eovaldi, followed by an Andrew Benintendi HBP and a Brock Holt infield single set up Mitch Moreland in an ideal scoring spot.

On the third pitch he saw from Velasquez, Moreland ripped a 94 MPH fastball all the way to the center field wall for a three-RBI double, and just like that, the Red Sox were up early.

Velasquez would depart from the game after reloading the bases in the same inning, but with Hector Neris on the mound for Philadelphia, nothing came of that scoring chance for the Red Sox.

Fast forward to the top half of the sixth with things knotted up at three, two straight two out singles from Rafael Devers and Sandy Leon had Boston threatening to jump ahead once again with pinch-hitter Steve Pearce due up.

With Tommy Hunter on the mound for the Phils, it looked as though Pearce managed to beat out an infield single that would have loaded the bases again, but upon further review, Pearce was ruled out and the inning came to a close.

After going down quietly in the seventh, the top of the eighth would turn out to be the last real opportunity for the Red Sox to cut into a brand new four-run Phillies lead.

JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all reached to leadoff the inning with reliever Pat Neshek on the hill, but all they could muster in the end was one run off a Mookie Betts pinch-hit RBI single.

That was that, and they went down quietly in the ninth as well to end an encouraging road trip in rather disappointing fashion.

Looking at the final box score, the Phillies ended up using SEVEN pitchers out of their bullpen. Gabe Kapler out here managing like it’s game seven of the World Series or something.

Some notes from this one:

Over the nine-game road trip, here is how the Red Sox stacked up (via NESN):

7-2 record

7.2 runs per game

.279 team batting average

2.54 starters ERA

4.00 bullpen ERA (Obviously the most discouraging figure)

Andrew Benintendi apparently hit a bill twice on one swing last night. That’s pretty cool.

Splitting the four-game season series while getting outscored 12-9 by Philly in those four contests, the Red Sox will not have to see the 66-53 Phillies for the remainder of the regular season.

Instead, they head back home to enjoy another off day on Thursday before welcoming the Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

Brian Johnson, David Price, and Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox in that order while the Rays still have a series to wrap up in New York.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Friday.

 

 

 

RECAP: JD Martinez Comes up Clutch with Two Homer Night as #RedSox Sweep Doubleheader in Baltimore.

After taking care of business against the Orioles in a 5-0 shutout win earlier Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox were back at it at Camden Yards later in the evening to wrap up the day-night doubleheader in Baltimore.

Hector Velazquez,who hadn’t started a game since July 11th while also making just three relief appearances since July 30th, got the nod in this one, and as some may have expected, did not go deep into Saturday night’s contest.

Pitching into the third inning, the right-hander had his fair share of ups and downs, as he sat down the first three batters he faced on 11 pitches, but proceeded to allow the next three Orioles he faced to reach in the second, which led to Baltimore tacking their first run of the night on a Renato Nunez RBI double.

In in his final frame of work, the Mexico native walked Jace Peterson to lead things off, then got Jonathan Villar and Adam Jones to ground out to second and third base for the first two outs of the bottom half of the third. That is how Velazquez’s night would come to somewhat of a surprising end, all while he failed to record a single strikeout.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 41 (56% strikes), the 29-year-old certainly was not pressed in his 34th outing of the season, which makes sense when you consider that he will be returning to his role in the bullpen in the coming days.

Out of those 41 pitches thrown, Velazquez relied heavily on his sinker, changeup, and slider, as he went to those three pitches a total of 33 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, which he threw seven times, in the first inning.

In relief of Velazquez, Brandon Workman got the first call in what would be a very busy night for the Red Sox bullpen.

Workman, who was later optioned down to Triple A Pawtucket, officially closed the book on Velazquez’s night by giving up an RBI single to Trey Mancini that scored Jace Peterson, who drew a leadoff walk earlier in the inning, from second and make it a 2-0 game.

After walking the next two batters he faced in Chris Davis and Renato Nunez to load the bases, Workman escaped any further damage by getting rookie Cedric Mullins to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.

Drew Pomeranz, making his second straight appearance as a reliever in as many days, settled things down a bit by tossing two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth and was in line for another winning decision with the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-2 lead while the left-hander was in the game.

Unfortunately, Heath Hembree, who has been struggling as of late, messed that up by surrendering the game-tying home run to Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard with two outs in the sixth, which could have been worse had Hembree not picked off Mullins on an attempted steal of second base while Rickard was at the plate.

Joe Kelly got the call for the seventh, and he worked his way around a one out single and two out walk for his first clean relief appearance since August 8th and fourth winning decision of 2018 to make way for William Cuevas in the eighth.

Cuevas, the 26th man on Saturday’s Red Sox roster for the doubleheader, made his first appearance with the big league club in over a month, and he too worked his way around multiple base runners in a scoreless frame of work.

Finally, in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel continued to frustrate by serving up a solo shot to Trey Mancini that cut Boston’s lead down to two, but ultimately saw his team’s 84th win through to the end by notching his 34th save of the season and 100th save in a Red Sox uniform on a four pitch strikeout of Chris Davis.

All and all, Alex Cora turned to seven pitchers in total, and despite only recording four strikeouts and an unsightly eight walks, I would say things worked out for the better.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher they have already seen multiple times this year in Baltimore’s Yefry Ramirez

Ramirez, a right-hander in his rookie season, owned a career 5.79 ERA in two previous starts against Boston coming into Saturday, but he held his own in five innings pitched last night.

Without JD Martinez, the Red Sox more than likely would not have won this game, and he got the scoring started for his team in the fourth by blasting his first of two home runs to cut the Orioles lead in half at the time.

An inning later, Dan Butler, who was starting behind the plate in the night cap, drove in his first big league run since 2014 on a sac fly that scored Eduardo Nunez, who tripled to lead off the fifth, from third and tie things up at two runs a piece.

In the sixth, with Steve Pearce at third and Martinez at second, a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Cody Carroll on ball four of Rafael Devers’ third at bat of the night allowed Pearce to come in from third. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a one-run lead.

A lead that would not last long though, as Baltimore answered right back with a run of their own in their half of the sixth off of Heath Hembree to re-tie the game.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Mike Wright on the mound for the Orioles, and JD Martinez essentially put this contest to bed by coming through with a clutch two-run shot to left field. 410 feet off the bat for Martinez’s second big fly of the evening and league-leading 37th of the season.

To put this thing out of reach for good, Brock Holt provided some necessary insurance in the ninth on a two out RBI single that scored Mookie Betts from second and gave the Red Sox a 6-3 lead they would not have to look back from to sweep the twin bill.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 84-35 on the season. They are also 13-2 against the Orioles.

JD Martinez drove in his 102nd, 103rd, and 104th RBI last night. In his eight-year career, the most runs he had driven in in a single season was 104 in 2017.

Craig Kimbrel has given up runs in five of his last six appearances. That is actually bad.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be going for the four-game sweep in Baltimore later this afternoon. Guess who is getting the start for Boston?

That’s right. Chris Sale is BACK from the 10-day disabled list after missing nearly two weeks with left shoulder inflammation as he gets the nod in the Sunday finale.

As I mentioned earlier, Brandon Workman to Pawtucket will be the corresponding roster move.

Backed up by a career 2.18 ERA in ten games (seven starts) at Oriole Park, Sale will be facing off against another lefty in Baltimore’s Alex Cobb.

Although he may not be having the greatest of seasons (5.55 ERA in 21 GS), Cobb, a Boston native himself, has seen plenty from the Red Sox over his seven-year career with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

In two starts against them in 2018, Cobb has surrendered a total of 11 runs on 20 hits in ten innings pitched.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Sunday.

 

 

RECAP: Mookie Betts Stays Hot and JD Martinez Reaches 100 RBI Mark as #RedSox Outslug Orioles in 19-12 Win.

In a game that took over four hours to complete and saw 31 total runs cross the plate, it was the Red Sox, with no help from their pitching staff, who came away with a series opening win against a last place Baltimore Orioles team in wild fashion.

Making his third start with Boston since being traded from Tampa Bay on July 25th, Nathan Eovaldi actually struggled. Wow.

He entered Friday having not given up a single run in 15 innings pitched with his new club, but also a career 6.10 ERA in two prior starts at Camden Yards, and the latter prevailed last night.

Pitching into just the third inning of this one, the right-hander got hit hard by the lowly O’s for EIGHT runs, four of which were earned, on 10 hits and two walks.

Most surprisingly, Eovaldi failed to strike out a single one of the 20 batters he faced on the night.

Control was also an issue for the Houston native in his 12th outing of the year, as he only threw strikes 59% of the time on Friday. Compare that to a 73% strike rate in his previous two starts, both of which were starts that allowed Eovaldi to work at a decently quick pace, something he really could not accomplish yesterday.

I don’t think it is that big of a deal, but it is worth mentioning that Dan Butler, not Sandy Leon, who was behind the plate in his previous two appearances, caught Eovaldi. There were times when pitcher and catcher were not on the same page in terms of what to throw, and perhaps that’s what led to a rough evening for Eovaldi.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (42 strikes), the 28 year-old hurler relied on his cut fastball 35 times and topped out at 99 MPH with his four-seamer in the first inning. Eovaldi will look to rebound from this disastrous start and maintain his previous stellar form in his next time out against his former club in the Tampa Bay Rays next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen too had themselves a rough night.

  • Brandon Workman cleaned up the mess left behind by Eovaldi in the third thanks to a pick off from Dan Butler to catch Tim Beckham stealing second and also tossed a scoreless fourth.
  • Drew Pomeranz, yes that Drew Pomeranz, made his first appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen since being demoted on Thursday afternoon and actually looked okay in a clean fifth. He would eventually pick up his second winning decision of the season later on.
  • Heath Hembree got knocked around for two runs on three hits and a walk in an abysmal sixth inning of work that saw the Red Sox lead shrink from three runs to one run.
  • Shoutout to Ryan Brasier, because he was the only reliever out of Boston’s ‘pen who managed to retire all three batters he faced in a shutdown seventh inning.
  • Matt Barnes gave up a solo homer to Mark Trumbo to cut his team’s lead to eight runs, but otherwise sat down three of the four batters he faced in the eighth.
  • And finally, despite giving up a run on two base knocks, Joe Kelly closed things down in the ninth to secure win number 82 for the Red Sox.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup certainly had themselves a night to remember, as they set a new season-high in runs scored with 19 of them on the evening.

Matched up against Baltimore’s ace in right-hander Dylan Bundy, who got hit hard by Boston in a game that ended up not counting because of weather late last month, the top and middle parts of the lineup got the scoring started right away to kick off the weekend.

Beginning the first by drawing a leadoff walk on four straight balls, Mookie Betts, along with JD Martinez, would come around to score two of the first three Red Sox runs on a two out three-run blast off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. His 17th of the season.

Fast forward to the fourth and trailing 8-3 all of a sudden, Brock Holt got things back on track by drawing a one out walk and would come around to score two batters later on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI triple. A passed ball with Mookie Betts at the plate allowed Bradley to score from third, and just like that, it was a three-run game.

Two innings later, a leadoff home run from a surging Holt cut the Orioles lead to two, and that was just the tip of the iceberg in what turned out to be a six run sixth for Boston.

Highlighted by a sac fly from Mitch Moreland that made it a one-run game, two bases loaded walks that saw the tying and go-ahead runs cross the plate, and a two RBI knock from Holt, the Red Sox found themselves with a brand new three run lead they would not have to look back from. All while the Orioles ran through three different pitchers in the inning.

In the seventh, with Donnie Hart still on the mound for Baltimore, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Mitch Moreland all reached base safely before a single out was recorded.

Benintendi, with runners on first and third, essentially put this game on ice by mashing his 15th big fly of the season, another three-run shot that gave his team a commanding 14-10 lead.

To wrap up the wild night filled with plenty of scoring, a pair of multi-RBI base hits from Mookie Betts and JD Martinez gave the Red Sox their 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th and final run of the contest.

For Betts, a bases-clearing double, his 32nd, saw Holt, Steve Pearce, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all score to up his RBI total to 62 on the season.

And for JD, a two RBI single that scored both Betts and Andrew Benintendi put his season RBI total over 100 at 101 to be exact. The first player to accomplish the feat this season.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: Tonight’s 19-12 win marks the most runs the Red Sox have scored against the Orioles since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954. It had been 24 years since the Sox scored 19+ runs in any road game (4/12/94 at KC, W 22-11).

Mookie Betts has reached base 10 times in his last 11 plate appearances.

One day after Betts hit for the cycle in Toronto, Jackie Bradley Jr. finished a home run shy in four at bats last night.

JD Martinez has driven in 101 runs in 109 games played.

Entering Friday in a 2/24 slump at the plate, Brock Holt went 3/4 last night with his first home run since April 17th. He also got a hug from JD Martinez.

Faced with a double-header that starts this afternoon, it will be David Price getting the start for the Red Sox in the first of two games on what looks to be a rainy day in Baltimore.

Opposite Price will be rookie right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis for the Orioles, who has both started and pitched out of the bullpen in four games with Baltimore this season.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Saturday.

As for the second game, another rookie in Yefry Ramirez will get the start for the Orioles.

Alex Cora has yet to make a decision on who will start for Boston. RHP William Cuevas has been recalled from Triple A Pawtucket and will represent the 26th man on the Red Sox roster for this today’s twin bill at Camden Yards. He, or Hector Velazquez, are realistic options to get the nod in the night-cap.

RECAP: Mookie Betts Amazes with Cycle as #RedSox Drop Series Finale to Blue Jays.

Believe it or not, the Red Sox are not a perfect team. They are capable of losing games and that is exactly what happened Thursday night for the first time this month.

Coming off the game of his life in his last time out against the New York Yankees this past Friday, Rick Porcello made his 24th start of the season yesterday, and he found himself struggling against Toronto’s team yet again.

If you recall the last time Porcello faced the Blue Jays in the series before the All-Star break, then you’ll remember that he got absolutely lit up for eight runs in two innings pitched back on July 13th in an eventual loss.

Last night, it was more of the same for the right-hander. Not only was he matched up against the same pitcher as before in Toronto’s Ryan Borucki, Porcello surrendered SEVEN runs in only four-plus innings pitched in another losing effort.

Things went awry right away for the New Jersey native in this one, as he walked the very first two batters he faced, which later resulted in two Blue Jays runs crossing the plate in the first.

An inning later, another leadoff walk and a single off the bat of Aledmys Diaz put runners at first and third for the Jays with no outs and Kevin Pillar at the plate.

On the first pitch of his at bat, Pillar grounded into what looked to have the potential of a force out at second. The run was scoring no matter what, but an E5 from Eduardo Nunez prevented a single out from being recorded and runners were safe at first and second with still no outs.

Nothing more came of that in the second, but Teoscar Hernandez, as he is known to do, blasted a solo homer off of Porcello in the third to pull his team ahead by two runs. He now has hit eight home runs in 20 career games against the Red Sox.

After what was without a doubt his best inning of the night in the fourth, a 1-2-3 effort, Porcello got hit hard again in his final frame, a frame that was capped off by a go-ahead three-run home run from Randal Grichuk, the last batter Porcello faced before getting the rather quick hook.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (54 strikes) and his team trailing by three runs at the time of his departure, Porcello relied on his curveball nearly one-third of the time he was on the mound Thursday. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball on his 13th pitch of the game.

How one goes from pitching a complete game in one outing to struggling mightily in the next is something I don’t think I will ever understand. If you’re frustrated by Porcello’s lack of consistency though, just keep these numbers in mind.

The 29-year-old will look to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season in his next time out against the Phillies in Philadelphia on either Tuesday or Wednesday, probably Tuesday.

In relief of Porcello, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he retired three of the only four batters he faced to clean up the mess made in the fifth.

Hector Velazquez was next up for both the sixth and seventh innings, and he allowed a lone Blue Jays run to score on back-to-back hits from Curtis Granderson and Devon Travis in the sixth while tossing a scoreless seventh.

And in the eighth, Tyler Thornburg worked his away around a pair of two out singles to strike out the side and give his team one last chance in the ninth trailing by four runs.

On the other side of things, as I had mentioned above, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a pitcher they had already familiarized themselves with in Toronto’s Ryan Borucki.

Similar to Porcello, Borucki, 24, in his rookie season, has been solid as a starter for the Blue Jays against teams not named the Red Sox.

He gave up seven runs, four of which were earned, in three innings pitched on July 13th at Fenway Park, and despite picking up the win on Thursday, Borucki was not much better.

Like Porcello, Borucki too allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base on back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi.

Four batters and one Xander Bogaerts walk later, Eduardo Nunez came through in a bases loades situation by ripping a two-run single to right field to drive in Betts and Benintendi. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a quick two run lead and it looked like it was going to be another one of this high scoring nights.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out to be, because the Blue Jays answered right back with two runs of their own in their half of the first, and jumped out to a 4-2 lead by the time Boston tacked on their next run in the fifth.

That run, a one out solo home run off the bat of JD Martinez, was good for his 35th of the season and had an exit velocity of 108 MPH. 4-3 game.

A Brock Holt RBI single later in the inning that scored Eduardo Nunez from second knotted this thing up at four runs a piece, but a three-run rally from the Blue Jays in the bottom half of the fifth essentially put this contest out of reach for the Red Sox.

Thanks to Mookie Betts though, headlines would still be made in Boston’s favor despite their first loss in over a week.

Going into the ninth with a single, a double, and a triple already under his belt, Betts had one last chance to go for history with Ken Giles on the mound for Toronto.

As I wrote yesterday, Betts got ahead in the count at 3-1, fouled off a 96.5 MPH fastball that was right down broadway, and capitalized on the very next pitch, a 85.6 MPH slider from Giles located at the top of the strike zone, by sending it 379 feet into the left field seats. First career cycle completed.

That homer, Betts’ 27th, put Boston’s fifth and final run of the night on the board, but it really meant so much more.

The 21st cycle in Red Sox history and first since Brock Holt did it back during the 2015 season, Mookie Betts should 100% be the favorite to win American League MVP right now. Not Mike Trout, not Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts.

Some notes from this one:

With a 1/4 night at the plate on Thursday, JD Martinez is currently riding an eight-game hittins streak. Over that span, Martinez is slashing .438/.514/.906 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

In seven games and 28 at bats this month, Mookie Betts owns a 1.500 OPS to go along with seven extra base hits.

Wrapping up the first leg of their road trip with a series win, the Red Sox head to Baltimore to take on a lowly Orioles team in a four-game weekend series.

Getting the start in the opener will be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who has yet to surrender a run in two starts and 15 innings pitched with his new club.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Baltimore’s ace Dylan Bundy, who has pitched well against the Red Sox in three starts this season. Last time Bundy faced them on June 11th, he held Boston scoreless in eight innings of work in a game the Red Sox eventually won in extras.

The Orioles have traded off most of their assets in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Kevin Gausman, so I totally expect the Red Sox to have full control of this series. Chris Sale will also make his return to the rotation on Sunday.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Friday.

BREAKING: Mookie Betts Hits for Cycle in Toronto.

Although they may have lost their first game in over a week on Thursday night, the Red Sox certainly made headlines in Toronto thanks to Mookie Betts.

Entering the night with the highest batting average in baseball at .340, it looked as though Boston’s leadoff man was on a mission against Ryan Borucki and the rest of the Blue Jays pitching staff.

Leading off the contest with a simple single, Betts would go on to get the hardest hit out of the way with a hard hit triple just out of Kevin Pillar’s reach in center field an inning later.

After doubling in the fourth and drawing a walk in the sixth, it would all come down to the final frame for the Tennessee native to get the job done.

Facing off against Toronto closer Ken Giles with one out in the ninth, Betts got ahead in the count at 3-1, fouled off a 96.5 MPH fastball right down the middle, which clearly ticked him off and pulled the count to 3-2.

Fortunately, Mookie made an adjustment and made Giles pay for the next pitch he threw, an 86 MPH slider at the top of the zone that the three-time All-Star sent 379 feet to left field to secure the cycle.

The 21st and first cycle from a Red Sox player since Brock Holt accomplished the feat on June 16th, 2015 against the Atlanta Braves, more than three years ago.

On the season now, Betts owns a .347 batting average to go along with 27 home runs and a 1.102 OPS and is pulling closer and closer to becoming the clear cut favorite to win American League MVP.

Full recap of Thursday night’s 8-5 loss is coming tomorrow.

RECAP: Rafael Devers Homers in Return from Disabled List as #RedSox Remain Unbeaten in August.

On the night following a 10-7 win despite a disappointing performance from Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox hung another 10 runs on the Blue Jays while Wednesday’s starter Brian Johnson had himself a much better time on the mound at Rogers Centre.

Making his eighth start of the season and pitching north of the border for the first time since he took the loss on a Luke Maile walk-off home run on May 11th, Johnson breezed through the first five innings of this one.

Retiring 15 of the first 18 batters he faced while holding the Jays scoreless, it looked as though the lefty was going to cruise to his third winning decision on Wednesday night.

It turned out that way in the end, but not before the Blue Jays gave Johnson a fair amount of trouble in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Starting in that sixth inning, a two-run home run off the bat of Teoscar Hernandez, who has now hit seven homers in 19 career games against the Red Sox, that was preceded by a Justin Smoak single gave Toronto their first two runs of the contest.

An inning later, which is the furthest Johnson has pitched into a big league game since last May, another home run, this one good for three runs off the bat of Randal Grichuk cut Boston’s lead in half and ended Johnson’s night on a rather sour note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (67 strikes), the former Florida Gator relied on his offspeed curveball heavily on Wednesday, as he went to it 44% of the time he was on the mound. His four-seam fastball, a pitch Johnson went to 40 times, topped out at 90.1 MPH in the second inning. Both home runs given up were a result of 86 and 87 MPH fastballs.

As he did end up improving to 3-3 on the season despite the five runs given up for the second consecutive outing, I would assume that Johnson will be able to maintain his spot in the rotation and make another start against the Philadelphia Phillies next week.

In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen, fresh off more than five innings of work on Tuesday, did not need to be turned to that frequently last night.

Both Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly tossed scoreless frames of work in the 10-5 win. Brasier worked his way around two base runners to retire the side in the eighth, and Joe Kelly did the same in the ninth to wrap up his team’s 81st win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was mas matched up against a 28-year-old rookie right-handed pitcher in Toronto’s Mike Hauschild.

Hauschild, making his first career big league start, managed to hold Boston scoreless through the first two innings, but things really blew up on him starting in the third.

Rafael Devers, who was making his first start since being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the day, got a four-run rally started by reaching second on a leadoff double.

One walk of Sandy Leon and one Mookie Betts HBP later to load the bases, Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox on the board with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Devers from third with ease.

Mitch Moreland, fresh off a four RBI night on Tuesday, followed that up by ripping another double off the wall in center field to drive in both Leon and Devers and make it a 3-0 game.

Following a JD Martinez single that advanced Moreland to third and a Blue Jays pitching change that saw Luis Santos take over for Hauschild, Xander Bogaerts capped off the early rally with another sac fly to right field that allowed Moreland to score from third. 4-0.

In the fifth, Bogaerts came through again with runners in scoring position, as he drew a bases loaded walk from Santos that let Mookie Betts, who led the inning off with a single, plate Boston’s fifth run.

An inning later, Rafael Devers put on exclamation point in his first game back from injury by blasting a 2-2 slider from new Jays reliever Jake Petricka 425 feet into the left field seats. Devers’ 16th big fly of the season was good for two and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH, the second hardest hit ball of the evening.

Fast forward a bit to the seventh, and back-to-back doubles from JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts plated Boston’s eighth run while Bogaerts was able to pick up his third RBI of the contest.

Finally, in the ninth, JD Martinez capped off what was another offensive onslaught from the Red Sox lineup by driving in Sandy Leon from second on a two out RBI single, his league-leading 98th of the season. Andrew Benintendi also came around to score in the inning thanks to a wild pitch from Toronto reliever Joe Biagini to plate his team’s 10th and last run of the night.

Some notes from this win: 

During his current seven-game hitting streak, JD Martinez is slashing .464/.559/.893 with one home run and nine RBI over that span.

From @MLBStatoftheDay: The are the 7th AL team EVER to win at least 81 of their first 115 games.

At 81-34, the Red Sox have won their last six games, all of which have come in August, 10 out of their last 11, and 25 of their last 30. Their winning percentage on the season is a robust .704.

Going for the series win later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball for the Red Sox against Blue Jays rookie southpaw Ryan Borucki.

Coming off perhaps the best start of his career last Friday against the New York Yankees in which he tossed nine innings of one run ball, Porcello will be in search of his 15th win of the season on Thursday.

Opposite Porcello will be Ryan Borucki, who also matched up against the righty in his last start against Boston on July 13th, a start in which he surrendered seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks in what turned out to be a 13-7 win for Toronto.

The Red Sox are red-hot and first pitch of the series finale at Rogers Centre is once again scheduled for 7:07 PM ET Thursday.