The Red Sox needed today to be the start of something...different.
They needed it to be the start of a positive run. For over a month now, they've been treading water at best, and as that period has gone longer, it's been harder and harder to see it as even that. After the Elias implosion on Friday especially.
To make that start happen they needed, well, a start. Of the pitching variety. Eduardo Rodriguez and Roenis Elias hadn't given them anything of the sort, and were leaving the outlook for the rotation increasingly bleak. Porcello had been trending down along with the Red Sox, but had a bit more positive of an outing in his last performance against the Twins, even if some bad defense behind him had made it look a fair bit worse. While nothing Porcello did today would help the fourth-and-fifth starter situations, the Sox desperately needed him not to leave them thinking they might be down to two that were any good.
So of course, Porcello gave up singles to the first three hitters he faced. The sky fell, Fenway Park burst into flames, and all hope was lost forever.
Alright, so maybe not. Porcello finally got Nelson Cruz to ground into a double play to hold the Mariners to one in the inning. Then the second inning started with an Adam Lind homer, and the third with runners on second and third with nobody out. The sky fell, Fenway Park burst into flames, and all hope was lost forever.
Alright, so maybe not. Porcello got Robinson Cano to foul tip a fastball into Christian Vazquez' glove, then went back to 93 MPH heat once more to strike out Nelson Cruz. Porcello was pushed up against the wall, his life flashed before his eyes, and he came out firing like a man possessed. Having just blown two guys away with fastballs, he gave Kyle Seager a first-pitch changeup, and got the desired ground ball.
And from there, he was almost completely clean. The only baserunner he'd allow through the end of the sixth was on a bunt. While that was all he'd give the Sox on the night, that was really all they were asking for. A quality start--and actual quality, not just one that fits the minimum possible criteria for that silly statistic, but a start of actual quality.
The lineup did take some time getting to Adrian Sampson in his first major league start. He'd escaped a three-hit first thanks to a double play from Dustin Pedroia, then allowed just a walk through the end of the third. But in the fourth, they started churning. Jackie Bradley Jr. got Sampson on a meatball, launching a solo shot to left-center to get the Red Sox on the board.
While Sampson got out of that frame without anymore damage, it wasn't until the fifth that the Sox really got to work on him. The Sox led off the frame with three straight singles to put men on the corners with a run already in to tie the game. Dustin Pedroia would take a lot of the tooth out of the inning by only managing to drive in the go-ahead run with a double play, but Xander Bogaerts quickly made up for some of that by cleaning out an inside fastball and launching a solo shot into the Monster seats.
That was all from Sampson for the night, but the Sox went ahead and scored off Mike Montgomery in the sixth, with Christian Vazquez doubling home Hanley Ramirez. Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel would make that, and a sixth run in the eighth entirely unnecessary, however, by surrendering all of a single through the final three innings.
A much-needed win from the Red Sox, who need to do that a few more times in a row now. But you can't win three games without playing three. Today, they did what they could.