It took them ten innings to do so, but the Red Sox secured a much-needed win in San Francisco Tuesday night against the Giants.
It seems like every time out right now, Rick Porcello is finding some new aspect of pitching to run afoul of that is typically not considered to be in control of the man on the mound. Two games ago, he had that issue with the umps. Last time, it was fly balls leaving the park at twice the rate as usual. When you really look at the way he's pitched in these games, the results don't quite seem to line up.
Tuesday night, it was a question of sequencing. Outside of a solo shot in the third, Rick Porcello allowed a grand total of four hits and a walk, while striking out six. Those kinds of totals could well result in just the one run on the homer. But because almost almost all of it came at once, in a messy fourth inning, Porcello was stuck with three instead. The Giants started off that fourth with three straight singles, and Porcello's one an only walk of the night was good not for a random baserunner, but drove in a run with the bases loaded. Only a double play would keep the inning from getting completely out of control.
Still, that didn't put the Red Sox out of contention by any means. The increasingly reliable Chris Young had doubled home Jackie Bradley Jr. in a quick two-out rally in the second to give the Sox a run, and Xander Bogaerts beat the throw on a ground ball to shortstop to bring home Mookie Betts in the third. That made Porcello's three runs good for just a 3-2 deficit, leaving Boston very much alive.
The Sox would manage to erase that one-run deficit in the seventh in slightly unusual fashion. With one down and men at the corners, a pinch-hitting David Ortiz bounced a ground ball back up the middle and over the head of Javier Lopez on the mound. Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford was able to cut it off and went for the tag on Chris Young between first and second, but Young basically stopped and dropped in his path to avoid it, then scrambled to the bag after Crawford threw onto first to allow Jackie Bradley Jr. to come in and score the tying run.
On the one hand, the Red Sox weren't losing. On the other hand, it was past midnight and there was nothing separating the two teams. Nor would there be after the end of nine, as both bullpens held fast at 3-3. And so we went to extra innings in a west coast game.
Thankfully, the Sox would not make their fans wait long for a lead. Sandy Leon, of all people, would be the man to get the rally started, hitting a double into right field to lead off the top of the tenth. With a man on second and three outs left to them, the Red Sox tried to drop down a sacrifice, but the Giants and closer Santiago Casilla were having none of it. Instead, they first walked Marco Hernandez on four pitches trying to avoid said bunt, then let Mookie Betts reach first when Boston kept the bunt on and Betts delivered a picture-perfect example of one.
With the bases loaded and zero outs, the Red Sox basically needed only to avoid disaster to take the lead. Dustin Pedroia certainly made no contribution to the cause when he immediately hit a ground ball to third on the first pitch he saw, allowing Matt Duffy to get the out at home. But behind him, after falling behind 1-2, Xander Bogaerts took the sort of slider that would have eaten him alive a couple years ago, then flipped a middle-middle curveball into center field for a bloop single in front of Denard Span, scoring both Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts to give the Red Sox the 5-3 lead. Craig Kimbrel would allow a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning on the first pitch he threw, but needed just eight more to record the three outs he and the Red Sox needed to seal the win.