With it looking more and more like David Price might not be able to return in 2017, the Red Sox really need one (or preferably both) of Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez to step up behind Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. Porcello has been looking like a pitcher who’s ready to turn things around of late, and he kept that going on Sunday. There were times where his command didn’t look perfectly sharp, but he made the most of it and the Yankees couldn’t really do much of anything against him in this game. The Red Sox needed a good start as they were going up against Sonny Gray on the other side, and Porcello came through in a big way.
As for the offense, well, there was certainly some frustration at certain points but they had enough big swings to come away with the victory. Jackie Bradley in particular stood out in this game has he had a couple of big hits to knock in Boston’s first three runs in the game when runs were of the essence. In fact, the entire bottom of the order came through as the bottom three hitters had two hits apiece. The bullpen also warrants mention here, as Brandon Workman, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel teamed up to put away the victory. This is likely the new pecking order in the back of the bullpen until further notice.
Porcello was certainly the story of this game for the Red Sox, and for good reason. While the offense was failing to get much going and not coming through with the big hit when they did get something going, they needed a strong performance from the 2016 Cy Young winner. He hasn’t been able to make good on that need consistently this year, but he certainly did so on Sunday. That being said, he was the beneficiary of some solid defense behind him and had left some bad pitches up in the zone on which the Yankees failed to capitalize.
Although he didn’t quite have all clean innings early on, Porcello stayed out of too much trouble to start this game. He did get a 1-2-3 frame to start the game, but allowed two runners to reach on a double and a walk in the second. Fortunately, he came through with a strong at bat against Tyler Austin — who of course was coming off a big game on Saturday — to get out of the inning unscathed. After allowing just one single in the third, Porcello did something he rarely does in the fourth: issuing back-to-back walks. The Yankees had two on with just one out, but the Red Sox righty induced a pop up and once again struck out Austin to end the inning.
The one bit of damage that came off Porcello came in the fifth inning with Boston leading 2-0 at the time. After leading the inning off with an out, he left a changeup up in the zone to Brett Gardner, and you can’t do that against a major-league pitcher. The veteran outfielder took it out to the seats in right field, and though it wasn’t the most majestic home run any of us will ever see, the dinger did cut Boston’s lead in half. Porcello did get out of that inning quickly after that and came through with a 1-2-3 sixth to end the outing.
So, despite not having his best command for much of this game, the Yankees couldn’t get too much going against Porcello. In the end, the righty tossed six innings only allowing the one run on three hits, three walks and four strikeouts. It’s not the prettiest line, but Porcello came through with a strong start when Boston needed it.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox were also facing a pitcher who didn’t have his best command on Sunday in Sonny Gray. The former Oakland A’s ace was making his first start against the Red Sox while donning pinstripes, and he avoided any sort of big inning despite Boston having some chances to do a lot more than they ended up doing.
The first inning didn’t involve a lot of excitement as the only baserunner came with Andrew Benintendi reaching on a single, but the second would go much better. Xander Bogaerts started that rally with a one-out single, and after the second out it was up to Sandy Leon to keep it going. He did just that with a single of his own, and Jackie Bradley sent them both home on a triple that was smoked out to straightaway center field. Just like that, the Red Sox had an early 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be able to add on to that lead over the next couple of innings. They did get two on with two outs in the third after a Hanley Ramirez double and a Devers walk, but the rookie third baseman was caught too far off first base and was picked off by the catcher to end the inning before they could capitalize on the situation. After a quick third inning in which they had one runner reach, the Red Sox had a two-on, one out spot in the fifth. It looked like Ramirez put a good enough swing on the ball to get at least one of the runs home on a deep liner to center field, but Aaron Hicks made yet another strong defensive play to make the out. The Red Sox would end up stranding both runners.
They did come back out in the sixth, with Adam Warren now on the mound in Gray’s stead, and get a little rally going. Mitch Moreland started things off with a one-out single, and he quickly scurried over to second on a wild pitch. Leon couldn’t come through with the runner in scoring position, but once again Bradley could. He hit a soft line drive out to right field and it fell in front of Aaron Judge to extend Boston’s lead back to two.
So, with a 3-1 score, it was up to Boston’s bullpen to hold on to this lead. First up in the ever-revolving door that is the Red Sox seventh inning was Brandon Workman. He did well in this spot getting a 1-2-3 inning against the bottom of New York’s order. He wasn’t the sharpest we’ve ever seen him, but he’s quickly becoming the favorite to emerge from the Matt Barnes/Joe Kelly/Workman trio.
After the Red Sox were able to score against Aroldis Chapman in the seventh despite getting Betts to third, it was Addison Reed on for the eighth with the 3-1 lead still intact. The setup man was given some help on a great diving stop by Brock Holt for the first out and that jumpstarted a relatively quick 1-2-3 frame.
After Reed shut the door in the eighth, the Red Sox offense got going in a big way against Tommy Kahnle and the Yankees. They quickly started a rally with a walk and a double before recording an out, and Leon kept things going with a two-run single to extend the lead to four. They’d load the bases before recording an out, but they couldn’t get anything going from there. Betts, Benintendi and Ramirez went strikeout, shallow flyout, groundout to end the inning with the lead sticking to four.
Despite it being a little more than a save situation, Farrell still called upon Craig Kimbrel for the ninth. The Red Sox closer came through with a 1-2-3 inning to give Red Sox pitchers 14 consecutive outs to end the game and seal the victory.
With the win, the Red Sox climbed back up to a five-game lead in the division and gave themselves their second consecutive series victory against their biggest rivals. This was particularly important given the big series coming up against Cleveland starting Monday night. They’ll have Eduardo Rodriguez on the bump for the series opener in that one.