After dropping their series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night, the Red Sox opened up a new four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays in much more encouraging fashion Monday, taking the opener by a final score of 10-8 to snap a two-game skid and improve to 51-43 on the season.
Making his 19th start of the season and third against Toronto for Boston was Rick Porcello, who entered the week having given up six total runs in his first two outings against the Jays.
This time around, the right-hander yielded four runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits, one HBP, and zero walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts over six full innings of work.
The first two of those Toronto tallies came in the top half of the second, when with two outs and a runner on first, Porcello served up a two-run home run to the just-called up Billy McKinney on a 2-0, 90 MPH two-seam fastball on the inner half of the plate.
An inning later, with one out and runners at first and second, an RBI double off the bat of Randal Grichuk and RBI groundout off the bat of Justin Smoak in consecutive order plated two more runs, cutting the Sox’ initial five-run lead down to just one.
Things were not looking all that positive for Porcello at that point, but New Jersey native did recover nicely enough from there by sitting down nine of the final 12 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the sixth, which is where his outing came to a close. Rafael Devers helped out, too.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 27% of the time he was on the mound Monday night, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 92.7 MPH with the pitch.
Able to pick up the winning decision to improve to 7-7 on the year despite his ERA inflating up to 5.37, Porcello has quite simply not been a quality starting pitcher since he tossed that seven-inning shutout gem against the Minnesota Twins on June 17th.
In four starts since then, Porcello owns an ERA of 10.50 over his last 18 innings pitched. He’ll look to turn things around in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
In relief of Porcello, Marcus Walden came on with a six-run cushion to work with, and it appeared as though the Red Sox would cruise to a victory following a scoreless seventh inning from the right-hander.
Ryan Brasier, however, did not have as easy as a time as Walden did, as he saw his team’s six-run lead shrink down to four on a one-out Smoak double, a Danny Jansen RBI single, a McKinney single, and a sacrifice fly from Eric Sogard.
With runners on the corners and still two outs to get in the eighth, Matt Barnes was tabbed with getting out of the jam, and he did so, but not before closing the book on Brasier’s night by surrendering a two-run base knock to the first man he saw in Freddy Galvis.
Just like that, a 10-4 lead turned into a 10-8 one, whcih meant Brandon Workman coming on for the save in the ninth on a night where it looked like he would not be needed.
Up against the 4-5-6 hitters in Toronto’s lineup, Workman needed only 14 pitches to retire the side, notching his fourth save and securing the 10-8 victory for his team in the process of doing so. Bullpen meltdown avoided.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Trent Thornton, facing Boston for the third time this season and second time in a span of two weeks.
Getting things started right away in the bottom of the first, a Mookie Betts leadoff double and back-to-back one out walks drawn by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez loaded the bases early for Andrew Benintendi.
On the second pitch he saw from Thornton, an 0-1, 93 MPH heater, Benintendi pulled an RBI single to right field to drive in Betts for his side’s first run and to refill the bases for Michael Chavis.
In a rookie-on-rookie matchup, Chavis won the first battle against Thornton, as he unloaded on a 3-2, 94 MPH four-seamer right down the heart of the plate and sent it 421 feet over the Green Monster for his first career Grand Slam and 16th homer of the season.
That put the Red Sox up 5-0 early, but as already mentioned, the Jays battled their way back to cut that deficit to one heading into the bottom half of the third.
There, with Thornton out and right-hander Sam Gaviglio in, a two-out walk drawn by Sandy Leon would turn out to be the catalyst for another five-run rally, as a Brock Holt walk and Betts free pass loaded the bases again, this time for Rafael Devers.
Devers came through with a two-run single on a 3-2, 84 MPH slider from Gaviglio, and Bogaerts followed suit by plating Betts and moving Devers up to third on a line-drive RBI single to center, making it an 8-4 contest.
Martinez’s second walk saw righty Joe Biagini replace Gaviglio, and up to the plate came Benintendi with the bases full once more.
Fittingly enough, the one who drove in the Sox’ first run of the night also drove in the last two, as Benintendi hacked at an 0-1, 94 MPH two-seamer from Biagini and slapped a two-run double down the left field line, off the base of the left field wall.
Both Devers and Bogaerts were able to score as a result, and the Red Sox had themselves a 10-4 lead.
The Sox were unable to send more than four hitters to the plate in a single frame from the fourth inning on, but despite Toronto’s best efforts, they managed to hold on and take this series opener by a final score of 10-8.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:
Xander Bogaerts during his seven-game hitting streak: .414/.469/.862 with four homers and 14 RBI.
A nice way to recover from a tough weekend against the Dodgers for sure, but as Sox manager Alex Cora mentions in the attached quote, his team needs to be better, especially at closing out games.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this four-game series on Tuesday night.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner, acquired from the Baltimore Orioles this past Saturday, is set to get the start and make his Red Sox debut. The Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.
Cashner, 32, owns an ERA of 1.41 and batting average against of .168 over his last five starts and 32 innings pitched dating back to June 8th.
In eight career starts against Toronto, Cashner is 3-2 with a 2.49 ERA over 50 2/3 total innings of work.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.