Another double-digit day for the offense against the Athletics, another win, and another trip to first place for the Red Sox. When an 11-run attack is actually a let-down, you know you’re doing something right.
And for the Red Sox, that something is hitting. They’re doing a lot of hitting against these Athletics. This time there was no early injury exit for the Oakland starter. Instead, after putting up two in the first on a Mookie Betts double scoring Pedroia and Ortiz, the Sox chased Daniel Mengden in a more natural fashion come the third.
Amusingly enough, the inning actually got off to an ugly start for the Sox. Boston’s two best hitters in Ortiz and Betts grounded out to third, almost making it seem like we’d be in for a more normal game this time around. But on a 1-1 count, Hanley Ramirez obliterated a slider into the stands high above the wall in left-center, and just like that, the floodgates opened. Leon and Young would reach to keep the inning going for Yoan Moncada, who slapped a ground ball down the left field line for his first major league hit, double, and RBI. Jackie Bradley drove Moncada in from second with a single, and three more hits from Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Ortiz brought in three more runs. The Athletics had gone from one out away from a clean inning to a seven-run disaster frame.
Unlike in other games against these A’s, the Red Sox did not exactly maintain their pace against Oakland’s bullpen. The Athletics would actually manage to turn in four straight scoreless innings against the Sox after that huge third. But Saturday night that really didn’t give them any better chance to stage a comeback. Rick Porcello was stifling early, carrying a perfect game through the first five innings. The third and fourth did see the A’s put up some solid contact, however, requiring big plays from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Chris Young to keep the zeroes intact. So, when the sixth saw Jake Smolinski hit a rocket over the glove of Chris Young in left field, it wasn’t exactly the biggest of surprises or even disappointments. A Bruce Maxwell single even spelled the end of the shutout, and a leadoff hit for Stephen Vogt in the seventh gave the Athletics another run.
That was all the Athletics would get, though, leaving Rick Porcello with another rock-solid outing to his name. The Red Sox even got those runs back in the last couple of innings, with leadoff hits from Xander Bogaerts in the eighth and Yoan Mocnada in the ninth leading to another pair of runs, and once again pushing the Red Sox into double digits. Even if this double-digit total was the lowest of the five they’ve produced.
With the Jays having fallen to the Rays, the Red Sox find themselves back in first place for the night. They’ll have one last bite at the Athletics on Sunday at a more reasonable hour, and then a series in San Diego—good opportunities to stay in first and perhaps even build a lead before a vital six-game stretch against the Jays and Orioles.