The Red Sox earned a mini-sweep of the Miami Marlins Wednesday night as Rick Porcello managed to survive a rough fourth and David Ortiz took center stage at the plate in a 6-3 win.
There was a whole lot of bending done by Rick Porcello in the first few innings, but no breaking. Porcello would allow two baserunners in both the second and third innings, with the latter taking him a remarkable 29 pitches to navigate. But a double play ball let him escape the second without damage, and the trouble in the third came with two outs, making a lone ground ball from Adeiny Hechavarria enough to end the threat.
Tom Koehler, on the other hand, had done little in the way of bending when he suddenly broke in the bottom of the third. It started with a simple walk to Ryan Hanigan, and while Koehler was able to get a ground ball off the bat of Mookie Betts, his throw to first was off the mark, allowing Hanigan to reach third and score on a ground out from Brock Holt. Xander Bogaerts would reach base and drive in Betts on an infield single, bringing David Ortiz to the plate. Koehler gave him a hanging curveball on the outside part of the plate, and Ortiz did exactly what he should do with those, going the other way and into the Monster seats for a two-run shot to make it 4-0, Red Sox.
The lead did not seem likely to last long the way the fourth started. The Marlins produced not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five one-out singles off of Porcello. It was the Bugs Bunny conga line made reality, with the Marlins putting up two runs and threatening so very many more. All that was missing from the classic Rick Porcello implosion was the home run. To give you an idea of just how dire the situation was, Justin Masterson was warming behind him.
But with the bases loaded, Dee Gordon grounded to third, where Pablo Sandoval fired home to keep the run from scoring, and Christian Yellich hit another ground ball back to the mound, where Porcello threw out his glove to snag the comebacker and keep the inning from getting truly out of control.
From there, things quieted down for Porcello, allowing him to get through six innings with just the two runs to his name. David Ortiz would help tack on another run by leading off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scoring on a double play, with Alejandro De Aza taking advantage of a host of defensive incompetence in the seventh to manufacture a run without so much as a hit in the inning. Matt Barnes would allow the Marlins to cut the lead to 6-3 by allowing an eighth-inning homer to Michael Morse, but that just served to get Koji Uehara into the game for a 1-2-3 ninth.
A pretty interesting game, on the whole. Not Boston's best performance at the plate, but enough to get the job done, and encouraging in that it was mainly the result of David Ortiz staying hot. Meanwhile, the real weaknesses that leave this recent resurgence in serious question were highlighted. This bullpen is shallow, and if Rick Porcello walked that tight rope, he was very much just one step from disaster.
If the Red Sox have your curiosity again after this 8-2 stretch--and their first four-game winning streak of the season--they've earned it. But if they want your attention, these are the questions you should be expecting them to answer. It doesn't have to be with Cole Hamels, or some other big deal that costs them significant prospects and ties up their payroll for years to come. But if they're looking to turn this into a real second effort, it's going to take more than three starters and two-and-a-half relievers. The pieces just aren't here. Yet.