RECAP: Rick Porcello Tosses Six Innings, Drives in Three Runs as #RedSox Open up Series in D.C. with a 4-3 Win.

Coming off a disappointing weekend in New York in which they could only pick up one win in three tries against the Yankees, the Red Sox headed south to the nation’s capital to take on the NL East’s Washington Nationals. Entering Monday with a record of 42-40, the Nationals have been far from the team they were expected to be going into the season. But with Max Scherzer on the mound for the opener, runs were more than likely going to be hard to come across for Boston.

Speaking of Scherzer, one of his better friends made his 18th start of the season for the Red Sox last night in Rick Porcello. We’ll get into Porcello’s day at the plate later, but for now, let’s just stick to pitching.

Since he was going up against one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, I was interested to see how Porcello would deal if he did not have much of a lead to work with. But thanks to his own efforts with a bat in his hands, the righty got some run support in the second and would not have to look back.

In six full innings pitched, Porcello surrendered two runs, both on solo shots, while scattering seven hits, walking two, and racking up five strikeouts on the night.

Throughout those six frames of work, the only real mistakes the New Jersey native came in the bottom halves of the third and sixth innings. Before that, Porcello escaped a potential jam in the second with some help from Mookie Betts’ cannon of an arm.

The first mistake came on a leadoff homer off the bat of Nats third baseman Anthony Rendon in the fourth, and the second came on a one out solo homer from second baseman Daniel Murphy in Porcello’s final inning.

Other than that, Porcello had himself a solid night on the mound. Can’t get too upset about giving up two solo home runs at a ballpark he had never pitched in before Monday.

Finishing with 92 pitches (66 strikes), the 29 year-old hurler went to his two-seam fastball 29% of the time last night and topped out at 92 MPH with his four-seamer. He’ll look to build on a successful start to July in his next start against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen had a bit of a rough go at it over the last three innings of Monday night’s contest.

Matt Barnes was first up in the seventh, and he held Washington scoreless while leaving two baserunners at first and second to pick up his 16th hold of the season.

For the eighth inning, Joe Kelly got his July off to a rough start by serving up a 439 foot mammoth shot to Bryce Harper on the third pitch of the at bat to make it a one run game.

After striking out the next two batters he faced, Kelly walked Mark Reynolds on six pitches to put a runner on first, which consequently ended his night.

Needing four more outs to pick up the win, Alex Cora turned to his closer for the longer than usual save opportunity. Craig Kimbrel, who did not see the mound once over the weekend in New York, got the Red Sox out of the eighth by getting Michael A. Taylor to fly out to right field.

While recording the first two outs of the ninth in fairly simple fashion, the last out to pick up the save was somewhat of a challenge for the Red Sox closer. He walked Juan Soto on eight pitches to put the tying run on base, although it wasn’t entirely his fault.

With Anthony Rendon, who had already homered in this game, at the plate now, Kimbrel fell behind 3-0 on the first three pitches of the at bat. Luckily though, Rendon must have gotten the green light from the Nationals bench, because he swung on the next pitch, and although he made hard contact (105 MPH off the bat), lined out to Andrew Benintendi to left to wrap this thing up. Save #25 in the books for Kimbrel.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup followed the instructions on how to score runs off elite pitchers by getting to Max Scherzer early.

In fact, Rick Porcello helped his own cause by coming up clutch after Scherzer loaded the bases by intentionally walking Jackie Bradley Jr., the number eight man in the Red Sox lineup.

To make the Nationals pay for that, Porcello ripped a scorching double over everyone’s head in left field off his old friend and former rotation mate. Unloading the bases toput his team up by three runs early, Porcello came away with his first RBI (3) since 2009.

Those were the only runs the Red Sox could manage off of the Nationals ace, who went on to pick up a quality start despite the bumpy second inning.

Fast forward to the seventh, with Scherzer out of the game and Nationals reliever Brandon Kintzler in. With a one run lead to protect, Mookie Betts added on some insurance by mashing his 21st big fly of the season to lead off the inning.

That 430 foot bomb gave the Red Sox their fourth and final run of the night, and despite some shaky moments in the eighth and ninth innings, that would be all they would need to pick up their 57th win of the year.

Some notes from this W:

Over his last 12 appearances, Joe Kelly has tossed 9.1 innings. In those 9.1 innings, he owns a 8.68 ERA and a .300 BAA. Not great.

From @SoxNotes: Last night marked the 7th time Mookie Betts homered and recorded an outfield assist in the same game. According to , that is tied for the most such games in the majors since the start of 2015.

Since joining the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season, Rick Porcello is slashing .143/.143/.214 with two hits and three RBI.

In the middle game of this series, it will be Brian Johnson making his second start in Steven Wright’s spot in the rotation for the Red Sox. In his previous start, Johnson allowed just one run in four innings pitched against the Los Angeles Angels this past Thursday. He’ll be matched up against Nationals righty Tanner Roark, who has never started against Boston in his career, but does have one relief appearance against them under his belt. One in which he surrendered one earned run in 3.2 innings of work back in 2015. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM ET later tonight.

 

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The #RedSox Have Offered JD Martinez a Contract. I Think He’ll Turn It Down.

Buster Olney tweeted this earlier, so I thought I would share my reaction. First off, I think this can be taken as good news for Red Sox fans. Imagine the reaction if the report was they had offered him five years, $150 million? Instead, I find an Average Annual Value of only $20 million dollars a year to be reasonable. Reasonable for the Red Sox I mean, not for Martinez. There are plenty of bad contracts for outfielders out there that Scott Boras can use as leverage. If Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Heyward are making more than $20 million a year, then Martinez, a much better player, is worth more than that. You could make the case that the Cubs value Heyward’s defense more than his offense, and that is why he is making as much as he is, but I think I would take Martinez over him if I were starting a team from scratch.

Like the title reads, I don’t think Martinez will accept this offer. Not only is the offer just five years in length, it only has an AAV of $20 million dollars. To get Martinez, Dave Dombrowski will more than likely need to up that offer. At that point, it might not even be worth signing him. Investing more than five years and more than $100+ million dollars in an age-30 player has not worked for other teams in the past. Dombrowski has already stated he feels comfortable with the team in place now, saying, “So yeah, we would be content. Would we rather (sign Martinez)? Yes. But again, we have to be flexible in our thought processes because you never know what is going to take place.”

What does this mean you ask? Well, I think it means that Dombrowski is not willing to break the bank on one guy who is far from a guarantee. Putting money aside for next year’s loaded free-agency class is a good fallback option to have. I would not mind not getting Martinez if it made Bryce Harper would be patrolling the outfield at Fenway in 2019. That’s just me though, only time will tell what will happen. Martinez or no Martinez, the Red Sox still have work to do. See you at Winter Weekend.

I NEED Bryce Harper in a #RedSox Uniform in 2019.

So, in case you live under a rock, Giancarlo Stanton is going to be rocking the pinstripes next year in the Bronx.

That stinks, obviously. With the power he has, Stanton is a generational type of player, and he’ll probably hit 55+ home runs next season. Not only that, he’ll be in the same lineup as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez too. Combined, the three mashed 169 long balls in 2017, one more than the ENTIRE Red Sox roster did. That’s crazy, and I expect those numbers to look the same for those three. Hopefully they will look better for the Red Sox, though. Not only do you have to worry about those three, the Yankees are oozing in talent over the place. Since they traded Starlin Castro, expect one of the best prospects in baseball, Gleyber Torres to take over. I don’t want to go on and on about the Yankees because they’re the Yankees, but they are going to be VERY good next season.

With that in mind, the last thing I want Dave Dombrowski is to overreact. Winter Meetings start Sunday night and I’m sure he’s ready to make some moves, but there’s no need to overspend this offseason. For instance, JD Martinez is a good player, one who is demanding at least $25 million AAV for at least 5 years. He is already 30 years old, that type of investment comes with a ton of risk. Instead of throwing all the money at Martinez, who will most likely compete with Eric Hosmer for richest contract awarded to a position player this offseason, I would go after other players demanding less. Carlos Santana first comes to mind, along with Eduardo Nunez, a player already familiar with the Red Sox. I’m not going to go into too much detail with this, because that’s not the point of this article.

The point of this article is the ultimate goal of this plan, and that’s Bryce Harper. Harper is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career at the conclusion of the 2018 season. He joins the likes of supreme talent like Manny Machado and Craig Kimbrel along with others. Yup, the 2019 Free Agent Class is stacked, and Harper is for sure the leader of that pack.

Similar to LeBron James a la the early 2000’s, Harper has been in the public eye since he was a teenager. Making his debut before his 20th birthday, Harper has already accomplished a lot in just a short time, including 2015 NL MVP honors.

In six career games at Fenway Park, Harper owns a slash line of .286/.375/.524 to go along with one home run and four RBIs. That’s a small sample size, but those numbers also say that Harper would most likely succeed as a hitter at Fenway. Defensively, I could see him playing either corner outfield position. What does that mean for the three guys who would be out there now? Well, I would say Jackie Bradley Jr. is the most movable piece out of the three. With Stanton out of the question, there’s no need to make Andrew Benintendi apart of any trade, unless it’s a blockbuster.

Anyway, this would be the perfect counter move to the Yankees acquiring Stanton. Throw all the money at Harper, it needs to be done. Dave Dombrowski said this team had a three-year championship window before last season. 2018 does not look promising but it can all be salvaged in 2019. Bring back Kimbrel and sign Harper. I know I’m getting way too ahead of myself, but it’s all I can think about. Harper and Betts vs. Judge and Stanton. Think about how electric that would be.

I know this is an overreaction, but I need Bryce Harper next winter. I need him to be recruited by David Ortiz, I need John Henry to give Dave Dombrowski a blank check, I NEED IT.

Enjoyed every minute of playing in Boston! Being able to take in opening day at Fenway Park was one of the best things that I've ever been apart of..N... - Bryce Harper (@bharper3407)

#OperationGetBryceHarpertoBoston will soon be a go. As for now, let’s see what Winter Meetings entails for the Red Sox.