The Red Sox finished a successful April off with a bang Saturday night, as Rick Porcello pitched seven more excellent innings against New York, and the lineup went nuts on those other guys in the Yankees bullpen to take an 8-0 win and lock up the series.
Honestly, the first five innings of this game looked like nothing so much as Friday's, just in reverse. Tonight, it was the Yankees sweating out a messy outing from a starter who had to claw his way through nearly every at-bat. Michael Pineda was remarkably inefficient. Even with a strike zone that was at times wide beyond belief, he required 38 pitches just to get through one out in the second inning.
But...the Red Sox still weren't scoring all that much. They would need to get lucky in the second to get any against him, with Mookie Betts dropping a bloop down the right field line to drive in a pair of two-out runs after hits from Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. They threatened more in the third, and put on another early baserunner in the fourth when Bradley walked with one down, but one way or another Pineda managed to fight through much as Henry Owens had done, getting through five while keeping the Red Sox within reach.
But only within reach in theory, because Rick Porcello wasn't giving anything up. Things only got really hairy for him once, when, on a single from Chase Headley in the fifth, Didi Gregorius made an aggressive attempt at third. The throw in sailed wide, and it required a diving stop from Porcello himself, backing up the bag, to save a run. But he made the play, and got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit one on the ground to Dustin Pedroia to end the threat. The Yankees would get some decent contact in the sixth, but produced only a single hit, and Porcello made short work of them in the seventh to finish another great performance on the mound.
Let it be known, though, that Porcello may well have pitched into the eighth if things had gone differently. But Boston's offense would have none of it. They had widened their lead in the sixth when, with Brock Holt on first base, Jackie Bradley Jr. found the gap in right-center and raced all the way to third with a triple, later scoring himself when Didi Gregorius couldn't make the play on a reasonably distant ground ball from Mookie Betts. But they really broke things open in the seventh.
It was David Ortiz who got the big inning going, taking Johnny Barbato very deep to right field for his second home run in as many nights. We will, for the record, be renaming the city after him. Barbato's night didn't get any better from there. Hanley Ramirez drew a walk despite the generous zone, Travis Shaw flipped a single to center, and Brock Holt fought off pitch after pitch in a lengthy battle before bouncing a high chopper back over the mound, where Starlin Castro could only deflect the ball with a lunging effort Barbato managed to strike out Christian Vazquez, but that just brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate again, and he did pretty much the exact same thing as in his last at bat, tripling home both Travis Shaw and Brock Holt to make it 8-0.
Jackie Bradley Jr., let it be known, now has an OPS over .800. In short: it's happening!
With such a lengthy wait, and a much bigger lead, Rick Porcello was told his night was in the books, and Robbie Ross took over, breezing through the eighth despite an error from Marco Hernandez, fresh in the game at second. The Sox only managed to load the bases in the eighth, and then had Junichi Tazawa take over for the ninth.
Wait, Tazawa? Yup. Not because Farrell thinks he's needed in an 8-0 game, but because he hadn't pitched in nearly a week. What a change from the early days of the month, where the Sox couldn't keep him out of games despite specifically trying to keep his workload low. Not a bad way to end April.
If weather permits, the Red Sox will go for the sweep behind David Price Sunday night. And right now, the Red Sox are sure as hell hoping there'll be clear skies over Fenway.