After a couple of really discouraging days, the Red Sox offense made sure they wouldn’t make it three in a row. Rick Porcello had a shaky day on the mound to be sure and there is still some concern around this Red Sox rotation that has helped carry the team all year long. That wasn’t an issue today, though. The lineup came to play and hit home runs while also being able to sustain rallies. The pitching has picked up the offense so much over the course of the year so it’s always nice when that trend is reversed.
This game was a wild one to begin with as neither pitcher was able to get into any sort of groove to begin their nights. Porcello’s night was rough from the very start and he immediately dug the Red Sox into a fairly large hole. He started the game out with a strikeout, then immediately allowed two consecutive doubles and got Boston down 1-0 just three batters in. It would only get worse from there, too, when Jose Bautista came up and smashed a hanging curveball on a line into the Monster Seats to put Toronto up 3-0. After the last two games, this was certainly a demoralizing inning for the Red Sox, and probably even moreso for the fans.
Fortunately, the Red Sox came out swinging in the bottom half of the inning against Marco Estrada. That rally came with two outs, too, and began when Andrew Benintendi reached on an infield single. Hanley Ramirez came through in the next at bat with a double off the Green Monster, and some really poor defense from Teoscar Hernandez allowed Benintendi to come around to score and cut the deficit to two.
That was all they’d score there, but Porcello came out and had his best inning of the night in the second, shutting Toronto down with a 1-2-3 inning to keep the 3-1 score. That would be important because the Red Sox really turned it on in the bottom half. This one started with a Christian Vazquez walk, and then two batters later Rajai Davis hit a double to put two in scoring position with just one out. From there, Jackie Bradley knocked in one with a ground out and Xander Bogaerts tied it up with an RBI single. In the next at bat, Bogaerts was off on a pitch and Pedroia hit a soft grounder towards second base. The second baseman was over to cover the bag for the running Bogaerts, though, and it snuck through. Both Brian Butterfield and Bogaerts read it very well and the latter was able to come around to score from first on the single even though it was originally called an out at the plate. With that, the Red Sox would end the inning with a 4-3 lead.
Porcello came out looking for the vaunted shutdown inning in the third, but he wouldn’t get it. Josh Donaldson — who has killed the Red Sox all week — started the rally with a one-out bloop single before a walk moved him over to second. After Porcello got the second out, it seemed he may escape the inning but instead made a bat two-strike pitch and allowed Kendrys Morales to hit a game-tying single. With two more runners in scoring position Porcello was able to escape further damage, but the tie was already in place.
As they proved to have all day, though, Boston’s lineup had the answer in this bottom half as well. They didn’t waste any time, either, as Ramirez got a changeup up in the zone over the heart of the plate and annihilated it over everything in left field for a 451 foot bomb. That gave Boston a 5-4 lead, and they’d add another run to that total with three singles later in the inning. That knocked Estrada out of the game, but Boston wasn’t done. Bogaerts would come up with two on and two out, but he was ready for an inside fastball and turned on it for a three-run homer of his own and all of a sudden the Red Sox had a 9-4 lead.
From here, it was all about the pitching being able to keep the team’s lead. Porcello wasn’t perfect for the rest of his outing -- he allowed another homer in the fourth, this one to Darwin Barney — but he was much better. He was getting some swings and misses and more importantly was getting more weak contact. In the end, he’d get through 5 2⁄3 innings allowing the five runs on seven hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. It was certainly a shaky outing and does not give anyone confidence about the possibility of Porcello pitching in the postseason, but he was still in line for the win. Gotta love wins!
After Porcello, the Red Sox turned to David Price for his first appearance in which he entered in the middle of an inning. That did not seem to affect him as the lefty retired all four batters he faced including three by way of the K. The eighth belonged to Addison Reed with a five run lead — the Sox got another run on a solo shot from Mitch Moreland — and Reed tossed a scoreless inning with just one singled allowed. Brandon Workman had the ninth, and he made things a little frightening by giving up a two-run homer to Hernandez (his second of the night). That forced Craig Kimbrel to start warming, but Workman got out of it in the next at bat.
So, with the win the Red Sox push the magic number to clinch the division down to two heading into their final four-game series of the year against the Astros. It’s possible that number could be down to one by the time of first pitch on Thursday, but that’s unlikely given the fact that the Yankees lead the Rays 6-1 in the eighth inning as I type this. Still, the Red Sox control their own destiny and they’ll look to take advantage of that with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound on Thursday.