For the second night in a row, the Red Sox got a great performance from their starting pitcher but couldn’t give them any run support. It was a frustrating start to the game, one that saw the Red Sox fall to yet another early deficit. Yet again, though, the offense got going with some long balls and then they put the game away against a subpar Blue Jays bullpen. This game was closer than the final score appears, but the Red Sox took care of business.
Porcello’s performance was certainly encouraging, particularly after his last turn on the bump. The 2016 Cy Young winner had his fastball command working for the most part on Wednesday night and most of his curveballs were buried in the perfect spot to put his opponents away. He did make one big mistake early in the outing, but beyond that and one big jam he mostly cruised through this outing.
Through the first two innings, Porcello allowed just two baserunners against the Blue Jays. One was on a legitimate double that was ripped by Steve Pearce, and the other was on a walk. The double was surrounded by three strikeouts to get out of the first and the walk was immediately followed by an inning-ending double play. When good pitchers give up base runners, they surround them with strikeouts and ground balls, and Porcello was able to do that early on in this outing.
The righty got into some trouble immediately kicking off the third. After leaning somewhat heavily on his curveball through the first two innings — and spinning it impressive, I should add — he threw a lousy one to Raffy Lopez. The breaking ball broke right into the center of the zone and the Blue Jays catcher blasted it over the fence in right field. It was the first run for either side and put the Red Sox behind early once again.
From there, Porcello retired three in a row to get out of that inning before getting into more trouble in the fourth. After a quick first out, the righty allowed three consecutive singles. Fortunately, the first single was to Kendrys Morales, who is not exactly fleet of foot. That ensured the Blue Jays would just load the bases rather than scoring on the third single, and then Porcello got out of it on a wicked line drive right back at him on the mound and a strikeout.
After that tough jam, he settled down in a big way and made it through 6 2⁄3 innings allowing just the one run on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the offense had some troubles against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ. The lefty, to his credit, was on his game in this one. While he didn’t show off wipeout stuff, he kept the ball down in the zone for the most part and generally displayed strong command. The Red Sox performance in the early going was certainly frustrating, but a large chunk of that was simply a pitcher making his pitches.
Still, Boston couldn’t come through with powerful swings when they needed them. They did get one very early in the first with a one-out double from Eduardo Nuñez, but he’d be stranded at second. Over the next three innings, the Red Sox would get a baserunner in each but couldn’t get them beyond first base.
In the fifth, things finally took a positive turn. With the team trailing 1-0, Hanley Ramirez came to the plate looking for a big swing. Boy, did he get one. Happ left a fastball right down the heart of the plate, and that is inadvisable against Ramirez. The righty destroyed the pitch out to left field on a no-doubt, game-tying dinger.
After the Red Sox stranded another runner at second in the sixth, Ramirez came back up in the seventh and this time settled for a leadoff double with the Blue Jays now turning to their bullpen. That brought up Mitch Moreland as a pinch hitter for Chris Young with the left-handed Happ out of the game. Moreland did not waste time impacting the game, as he took a fastball that was above the strike zone and obliterated it to the second deck in right field. Just like that, the Red Sox had a 3-1 lead.
So, it all came down to a Red Sox bullpen that was without its two top relievers. Both Craig Kimbrel and Addison Reed had pitched the last three days, and Boston needed to get by without them. It started with Robby Scott, who came in for Porcello with two on and two out. The lefty did his job in inducing an inning-ending flyout.
The Red Sox offense then proceeded to tee off on Toronto’s bullpen and blow the game wide open. They had four batters in a row reach before recording an out and ended up tallying four runs in the eighth. That led to Joe Kelly coming out for the bottom half with a newfound six-run lead for the Red Sox. Kelly would set down the side in order in the eighth and then went out and did the same in the ninth.
So, with the win the Red Sox complete the sweep in Toronto after being handed a sweep in their own park. It was exactly what the doctor ordered, and the Yankees went out and did Boston a favor by losing both ends of Wednseday’s doubleheader. With New York tallying two losses and the Sox getting their win, the lead in the division is now up to 5.5 as the Red Sox and Yankees set to meet up in a big four-game series in New York beginning on Thursday. Eduardo Rodriguez will take the hill for Boston to start that series.