After waiting out a four-hour-and-five-minute rain delay, the Red Sox rattled off their third straight win on Saturday, clinching their series against the Detroit Tigers with a closer-than-the-scoreboard-indicated 10-6 victory.
Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who picked up the win the last time he faced off against his old club back on April 25th
Coming off one of the worst starts of his career in his last time out against the New York Yankees in London, the right-hander’s struggles continued in this one, as he surrendered six runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.
The first pair of those Tigers tallies came in the fourth, when with no outs and a runner on first, Jeimer Candelario got his team on the board with a 398-foot, two-run shot to right field.
It looked as though that would be Porcello’s lone mistake leading into the sixth, but Candelario struck again, mashing his second big fly of the evening to cut into Boston’s lead even further at 7-3.
Able to get the second out of the inning on a force out at second, a single from Gordon Beckham, as well as a wild pitch to the next man he faced in Bobby Wilson, put runners at second and third for the Tigers backstop, and he drove in both runs while simultaneously ending Porcello’s night on a two-run single to left.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (75 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 92.8 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.
Improving to 6-7 despite another poor performance that bumped his ERA on the season up to 5.33, Porcello will look to put a forgettable first half of the 2019 campaign behind him in his next time out, which should come against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Toronto Blue Jays after the All-Star break.
In relief of Porcello, Colten Brewer came on with one runner on and one out to get in the sixth, and he officially closed the book on the Boston starter’s outing by allowing that sixth run to score on a Victor Reyes RBI triple before ending the inning.
From there, left-hander Josh Taylor loaded the bases with three of the first five hitters he faced in the bottom half of the seventh, which paved the way for Matt Barnes to enter with the go-ahead run at first.
Appearing in his third straight game going back to July 4th, Barnes did not falter this time around, punching out Gordon Beckham on three straight curveballs to escape the jam with the lead still intact.
Brandon Workman retired the only three hitters he faced in a scoreless eighth, and Steven Wright locked down the 10-6 win for the Sox with a shutout frame in the ninth.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers, who opposed Porcello at Fenway Park back on April 25th and took the loss in that contest.
Starting the scoring for Boston right away in the first inning of this one was Rafael Devers, plating Mookie Betts from third following a leadoff triple on a simple RBI groundout to first.
Two batters later, Andrew Benintendi made his return to the Sox lineup after two days off in triumphant fashion, ripping another three-bagger off Zimmermann and coming in to score on a Michael Chavis bloop RBI single.
In the second, back-to-back singles from Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez to lead off the inning, followed by a successful Sandy Leon sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position for Betts.
Betts took advantage of the situation in front of him, this time lining a double off Zimmermann to plate both Holt and Hernandez.
Christian Vazquez came through with two outs in the same frame, scoring Betts from second on a hard-hit RBI back up the middle to put his team up 5-0 early.
Fast forward to the fourth, and hits from Devers and Vazquez to lead off the inning brought Andrew Benintendi with runners at second and third, and the birthday boy delivered with an RBI double to left that probably should have been caught by Tigers outfielder Christin Stweart. But, it wasn’t, and Devers scored because of it. 6-0.
A pitching change that saw left-hander Blaine Hardy take over for Zimmermann and a one-out walk of Jackie Bradley Jr. meant that runners were on the corners for Brock Holt, who brought Vazquez home from third with a sacrifice fly to center, making it a 7-0 game.
That seven-run cushion quick;y shrunk to just one though, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Sox bats got back on the board, with Hernandez scoring from third on a simple one-out, bases loaded grounder from Devers that was mishandled by Detroit reliever Buck Farmer on the throw back to home.
An inning later, in his second at-bat of the night after pinch-hitting for Holt in the seventh, Eduardo Nunez provided some more insurance for his side, plating Benintendi from second on a two-out, run-scoring single off Farmer. 9-6.
And in the ninth, a Vazquez sacrifice fly with runners at the corners yet again allowed Leon to coast in from third and put the Red Sox up 10-6, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
Andrew Benintendi on his 25th birthday, batting cleanup: 4-for-6 with one double, one triple, two runs scored, and one RBI. Finished a home run shy of the cycle.
Michael Chavis, through five games in July: .333/.364/.571 with two doubles, one homer, and four RBI.
Mookie Betts’ last seven games: .407/.528/.593 with three RBI and eight walks.
Through his first 18 games this season, Marco Hernandez is slashing .348/.362/.565 with two homers, four doubles, and seven RBI.
Rafael Devers extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Saturday.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set and the last game before the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon.
Another former Tiger in the form of left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Gregory Soto will do the same for Detroit.
Since that six-run meltdown against the Texas Rangers on June 13th, Price has recovered nicely, posting a 2.65 ERA and .239 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.
In 22 prior appearances (20 starts) at Comerica Park, the 33-year-old owns a lifetime 2.99 ERA and .249 batting average against over a total of 141 innings of work.
Soto, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for the Tigers on Sunday, as he tossed a scoreless seventh inning of relief against Boston in the series opener on Friday.
Through seven outings (six starts) in 2019, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA north of eight at 8.06 over 22 1/3 innings. The Tigers are 2-5 in those games.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep in the final action before the All-Star break.