After blowing out the Los Angeles Angels in a 16-4 victory on Friday night, the Red Sox saw their two-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, as they fell to the Halos by a final score of 12-4 to drop back down to 62-57 on the season.
Making his 24th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who came into the weekend fresh off his best outing in weeks in his last time out against the Kansas City Royals.
Working into the sixth inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered five runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.
The first three of of those Angels runs came right away in the top half of the first inning, when for the second game in a row, a three-run home run got Los Angeles on the board first.
This one came courtesy of Justin Upton following a leadoff single from Kole Calhoun and one-out double from Shohei Ohtani.
On the fourth pitch he saw from Porcello, Ohtani unloaded on a 1-2, 93 MPH heater and wrapped it around Pesky’s Pole for his seventh home run of the season.
All was not looking well for Porcello early on, but the New Jersey native settled in nicely after serving up that bomb by stringing together 14 consecutive outs from the top of the first until the middle of the fifth.
Unfortunately for Boston though, Calhoun broke up that string with a leadoff single in the sixth, and Mike Trout followed that up by doing something he had yet to do in his career before Saturday, that being hit a home run at Fenway Park.
Yes, it took 22 games at Fenway to do so, but Trout clearly liked the first pitch he saw from his fellow statesman, a 90 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate, in his third at-bat of the day, and he deposited it 428 feet over the Green Monster.
Trout’s 39th homer of the year put the Angels up 5-1, and Porcello’s evening quickly came to a close as the two-time American League MVP was making the jog back to his dugout after rounding the bases.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (54 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.8 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 21 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.
Ultimately falling to 10-9 while inflating his ERA on the season up to 5.67, Porcello did not pitch poorly on Saturday. It’s just that the two biggest mistakes he made went for long home runs with men already on base. He’ll look to re-gain that Kansas City form in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
In relief of Porcello, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez entered the sixth with the bases empty and three outs to get, and he got those three outs while working his way around a walk as well.
The seventh inning is where this contest fell apart for the Red Sox. Hernandez came back out for his second frame of work with his team in a three-run hole.
Despite the decently positive results in the sixth, the 22-year-old lost control in the seventh, as he allowed the Luis Rengifo, Kevan Smith, Wilfredo Tovar, and Calhoun to all reach base without recording an out.
Tovar drove in Rengifo on third with an RBI single, and Calhoun drew a walk on five pitches to fill the bases, which ended up being the point where Hernandez could no longer continue.
Instead, Hector Velazquez was inserted into this particular jam, and he proceeded to bean the first man he faced in Trout, digging the hole even deeper at 7-2.
A two-run single from Ohtani and sacrifice fly off the bat of Upton increased the Angels’ lead to eight runs, and David Fletcher plated a pair despite not recording an RBI on a single that got past Sam Travis in left field, which in turn allowed Ohtani and Matt Thaiss to score and make it a 12-2 game.
From that point, Velazquez got the final two outs of the seventh without allowing another run to score, while Ryan Weber retired six of the eight hitters he faced over two scoreless frames of relief in the eighth and ninth to hold the Angels at 12 runs.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, another former Miami Marlins prospect who had been out since July 16th due to inflammation in his throwing elbow.
Starting the scoring in the bottom half of the third inning, a Jackie Bradley Jr. HBP and Mookie Betts single that Upton misplayed in left field put runners in scoring position with no outs for the middle-part of Boston’s order.
Xander Bogaerts was unable to do anything, as he flew out to shallow right field, but J.D. Martinez was able to load the bases by taking a 1-2, 80 MPH curveball off his left foot.
That HBP brought Sam Travis to the plate in a prime run-scoring spot, and he managed to bring Bradley Jr. in from third on a sacrifice fly to left to cut the early deficit down to two runs at 3-1.
Still with runners at first and second, Christian Vazquez killed any shot of extending the rally by flying out to Upton in left to end the inning.
In the fourth, back-to-back two-out singles from Sandy Leon and Bradley Jr. set up Mookie Betts nicely against new Angels reliever Taylor Cole, but all the reigning American League MVP could do was fly out to right for the third and final out.
Fast forward to the sixth, with Brock Holt at second following a one-out double, Bradley Jr. at first following a two-out walk and former Red Sox prospect Ty Buttrey on the mound for Los Angeles, Betts came through this time with a line-drive RBI double to score Holt from second and trim the Halos’ lead to three runs at 5-2.
5-2 was the closest the Sox got though, as the Angels exploded for seven runs of their own in their half of the seventh.
Travis and Michael Chavis responded in the bottom half of the frame with a solo homer and run-scoring groundout off of JC Ramirez to make it a 12-4 contest, but that would go on to be Saturday’s final score.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 11 men on base as a team.
From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:
So, the mini two-game winning streak for the Red Sox has come to an end. They’ll look to close out this six-game homestand with a series win over the Angels on Sunday afternoon before heading to Cleveland.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner is set to get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Patrick Sandoval will do the same for Los Angeles.
Since coming over from the Baltimore Orioles last month, Cashner has taken the loss in four of his first five starts with the Red Sox. He has posted a 7.53 ERA over 28 2/3 innings of work in that span.
In his career against the Angels, the 32-year-old owns a lifetime 3.27 ERA and .259 batting average against over six total appearances (three starts) and 22 innings pitched.
Sandoval, meanwhile, will be making his firs career big league start in his second appearance after yielding two runs over five innings of relief in his big league debut against the Cincinnati Reds this past Monday.
Ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the Angels’ farm system, Sandoval, 22, posted a 5.71 ERA and .290 batting average against over 19 starts between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Salt Lake before getting called up on August 5th.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.