The Red Sox could really use a strong run through the rest of this month and heading into the month of June. They don’t need one. It’s still to early to say it’s necessary. Still, it would be nice. In order for that to happen, they need to be clicking in all facets of the game. They don’t need to be great at everything at all times, but they need to be good in enough areas at any given moment to cover for whatever weak spot is hurting them at the time. Tuesday was a nice microcosm of this idea, as different areas of the game were struggling at different points in the night, but someone else came right along and picked them up as soon as they could.
Rick Porcello, for example, wasn’t at his best. He certainly wasn’t bad, to be fair. He was just....fine. He was a little too hittable at times, and had some wildly bad luck that led to a couple of runs that could and should have been avoided. We’ll get to that in a minute, though.
The game started out looking like a pitcher's duel between Porcello and Rangers starter Andrew Cashner. Through the first inning and a half, nine batters came to the plate and nine batters were retired. After a quick first out in the bottom of the second, the Red Sox started showing Cashner for what he was. Hanley Ramirez drew a four-pitch walk and Mitch Moreland followed it up with a line drive that was ripped through the middle for a base hit. After a wild pitch moved them each to scoring position and Jackie Bradley drew another walk to load the bases,, the Red Sox had to do something. Sure enough, they did. Sandy Leon hit a weak ground ball that even he wasn’t slow enough to get doubled up on (although, it was terrifyingly close at first base) and the Red Sox took a quick 1-0 lead.
It wouldn’t last long, though. Porcello’s worst inning was the top of the third, and based on the contact it probably could have been worse. It started with a Joey Gallo double to left field, although this was a Fenway double that was popped up and scraped the Monster. A line drive single moved Gallo over to third and he’d be able to score and tie the game on a sacrifice fly.
Porcello failed to get the vaunted “shutdown inning” but the offense was able to pick him right back up. This time, it was thanks to a lot of luck. After two quick outs, Xander Bogaerts reached on an infield single and Andrew Benintendi followed it up with a pop up that landed between three Rangers to put runners on the corners with two outs. Bogaerts would come in to score on a wild pitch in the next at bat, and the inning ended with Boston ahead 2-1.
The scoring ended for an inning after that, before Porcello ran into some bad luck of his own in the fifth. The righty started the frame with two strikeouts, and at that point it looked like he was really finding his groove. Then, he allowed a little swinging bunt to Delino DeShields Jr., who just had too much speed for Porcello to have a realistic shot at making the play. It went about two feet off the bat, but it was enough for a hit. Sure enough, it was followed up with a double off the Monster that scored the tying run.
But, as had been the theme of the entire game, the Red Sox had Porcello’s back and were not going to let him pitch without a lead for too long. This time, they tacked on a few. Boston put the pedal to the metal here and Cashner started to unravel. They went single, single, walk, single, walk to start the inning, giving them two runs before recording an out. After recording the first out, Moreland hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Bogaerts thanks to aggressive base running, but also cost them another out at third base thanks to aggressive base running. Either way, they left the inning with a 5-2 lead.
Of course, Porcello came back and got into more trouble in the next inning, although once again bad luck had a lot to do with it. Just like in the previous frame, the reigning Cy Young winner started off with two straight outs. This time, the first base runner came on a ground rule double, but one of the Fenway kinds of ground rule doubles. Rougned Odor hit a blooper down the left field line that had enough side spin to bounce up into the seats. The second baseman would come around to score on a single to right field when Mookie Betts’ throw home went to the backstop. Fortunately, Porcello limited the damage to just one and the Red Sox still had a 5-3 lead.
From here, the offense decided enough was enough. They’d score four in the sixth to break it open to 9-3, and it was a good thing they did. Porcello came back out for the seventh and allowed a couple more runs. In fact, the Red Sox were lucky the Rangers didn’t get more in that inning, as the frame ended on a play at the plate that was called as an out, but Nomar Mazara certainly looked safe to me. Texas added another run in the next inning on a Gallo home run off Robby Scott, before Boston added two of their own to avoid having to use Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.
This wasn’t a perfect win, but the Red Sox offense was there all night whenever the pitching staff took a step back. With Chris Sale on the hill tomorrow, the Red Sox should be able to keep taking advantage and get some momentum going.