The Red Sox took the rubber match in their series against the Indians Sunday afternoon on the back of a ridiculous day from David Ortiz and a reasonable-if-short start from Rick Porcello.
The Red Sox scoring runs in the first is getting into the same territory as death and taxes these days. After getting Mookie Betts to ground out to start the inning, Salazar had a bit of a rough time. The next four Red Sox would all reach base against him, culminating in Hanley Ramirez a ball directly into his ankle for an infield single, scoring a second run and briefly leaving the Indians unsure if he'd remain in the game.
But Salazar did stay in, and he survived the first, getting strikeouts of Travis Shaw and Blake Swihart after walking Jackie Bradley Jr. to reload the bases. And where Rick Porcello had managed to escape the first inning despite a couple hits, he would not prove so fortunate in the second. The Indians staged a quick two-out rally, starting with a wall-ball double and ending with Jason Kipnis blooping home a couple runs to tie the game.
It was a bit of an ugly opening for Porcello, and it certainly cost him some innings, but ultimately he managed to lock in and once again give the Red Sox a positive outing. Porcello would strike out two in a 1-2-3 third, and work around a double in the fourth. Another 1-2-3 frame saw him into the sixth, and while he wouldn't get the opportunity to finish it after hitting Lonnie Chisenhall with his pitch count already over 110, he did finish his day with 5.2 innings of two-run ball. Not his best effort ever, but another solid entry in his increasingly positive resume in Boston.
And while we were not in store for another offensive attack that approached double digits, the Red Sox were none-the-less plenty capable of getting Porcello the lead back and then some. Right after the Indians had tied it in the second, singles from Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts set the table for David Ortiz, who picked up his second hit of the day, doubling home Betts to make it 3-2. Again, in the fifth, it was Papi stepping up and hitting a fastball out to right for his eleventh homer of the year to make it 4-2. The sixth saw Xander Bogaerts drop a bloop over the head of Jason Kipnis, letting Betts score again when Yan Gomes couldn't handle the throw home.
With the Sox now handing off a three-run lead mostly to the better portions of their bullpen, and Jackie Bradley Jr. already having extended his hitting streak with a fifth-inning single, attention could be turned to Ortiz needing just the triple for the cycle. Not exactly an easy ask for the slow-footed DH, but after being given the intentional walk in the sixth, he gave it his best shot in the eighth. And had he been just a little luckier, his long fly ball into the triangle would've given him the three bases it needed...had it not bounced up, off the wall, and into the seats.
Yes, but for an unlucky bounce making it a ground-rule double, we would be talking about David Ortiz hitting for the cycle right now. Instead, we'll have to live with just the 5-2 win, a series victory, and a share of first place once more.