What a night for Rick Porcello. The Red Sox number three starter and 2016 Cy Young winner looked a lot like he did in that hardware-worthy season, showing off impeccable command from his first pitch to the last. The righty had all of his offerings working and he was locating everything exactly where he wanted. That allowed him to get through six full innings without allowing a hit, and he only allowed one baserunner in that time. Boston has had a number of great pitching performances this year, but all things considered this was probably the best so far. The offense also managed to get plenty of runs, giving Rick Porcello a 6-0 lead after just three innings, and the pitching staff maintained the the rest of the way, though the Yankees did make a little noise in the ninth. The one bit of bad news to come out of this was Hanley Ramirez exiting in the first inning when he was hit in the wrist by a Sonny Gray fastball (no, it was not intentional). Fortunately, the X-Rays came out negative.
Porcello, as you can surmise from the above, was phenomenal throughout his start and it was clear from the get-go that he had his best stuff and command going all night long. Despite the rain coming down, and getting harder as the night went on, he didn’t seem to have any problems getting a grip on the ball and doing his thing. The biggest issue in Wednesday’s loss to the Yankees was the inability to stop the top of their lineup, and specifically allowing Brett Gardner to get on in front of the heart of that order. It made the first at bat of this game seem more important than it probably was, and Porcello came through with a weak groundout to start things off. He’d get two more similar ground balls from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and we were rolling.
Things didn’t get much more difficult for the 2016 Cy Young winner moving forward, either. In the second, he got one strikeout on a nasty slider and two weak pop ups to the outfield. In the third, he got another strikeout, this time on a cutter, and a weak grounder along with a routine fly out. Porcello had to face the top of the order again in the top of the fourth after setting down the first nine batters he saw, but he still didn’t have much trouble. Gardner hit a routine fly ball, Judge grounded out again, bringing up Stanton as Porcello looked for four straight. Instead, he just barely caught the slugger’s elbow guard, giving New York their first baserunner and breaking up the perfect game. The no-hitter would stay intact, though, as Didi Gregorius flew out to end the inning. The Yankees would go down with two groundouts and a flyout in the fifth, and Porcello was more than halfway to a no-hitter.
It was at this point when the tarp was brought on the field, putting in jeopardy the pitcher’s accomplishment. The game was delayed for about 45 minutes by my count, and rather than letting the bullpen attempt to keep the no-hitter going, Alex Cora brought his starter back. Porcello didn’t miss a beat in his first frame back, getting a groundout and two strikeouts to set the Yankees down in order yet again.
So, he took the no-hitter into the seventh, but this is where it would die. Aaron Judge led things off, and he smashed a leadoff double over Jackie Bradley Jr.’s head in center field to break up the potentially historic event and turn it into merely a very good start. Except, the Stanton followed that up with a single of his own to put two on and nobody out, and things got a little scary in a 6-0 game. Porcello settled down, however, and got a flyout and a pair of strikeouts to end the inning and his night. All told, he tossed seven shutout innings in which he allowed just the two seventh-inning hits with five strikeouts, no walks and one hit batter. Just a phenomenal night.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox offense was having no problem with Gray and the Yankees pitching staff, though the first inning looked a little bleak. They did get a little bit of damage without scoring any runs, but this was also when Ramirez was hit in the wrist with the fastball.
Boston would end up stranding runners on the corners in that first, but they came back a lot stronger in the second and really put a hurting on Gray. That one started with an infield single from Eduardo Nuñez, who moved to second on a walk and scored on a Sandy Leon single. After Brock Holt loaded the bases on a walk, Mookie Betts crushed a fly ball right in front of the triangle that was caught but was deep enough to not only score a run but also advance the other two batters. From there, Andrew Benintendi hit a ground ball to second base on which Tyler Wade made a poor throw home, allowing a run to score and putting runners back on second and third. With a 3-0 lead, Mitch Moreland — who came in for Ramirez — knocked in one more on a single against the shift.
The Red Sox didn’t take their foot off the gas in the third, and they got a little more help from the Yankees defense. This inning also started with Nuñez, who smashed a double high off the Monster this time around. Jackie Bradley Jr. then came up and hit what looked like a routine pop up to left field. However, the ball apparently got caught in some wind and/or Stanton lost it in the rain, and he was waiting for it by the wall while it landed a good ten feet away from him and bounced into the stands. Leon struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt on the next play, but Bradley made an aggressive decision to go to third and Gary Sanchez tried to get him instead of making the easy play to get Leon at first. Instead, he got no outs and put runners on the corners. The Red Sox would get one more on a Betts groundout to go up 6-0.
That was all the offense would do, but it was enough given the performance on the mound. It should be noted, however, that Nuñez was lifted from the game following the rain delay, though there’s no word on it being anything more than precautionary. When Porcello was lifted, the Red Sox turned to the recently promoted Marcus Walden to finish off the final two innings.
He did just that in the eighth, but the ninth did not go so well. The Yanks sent the heart of their order up, and quickly loaded the bases on a walk, an error on a rocketed line drive and another walk to bring up Gary Sanchez, who then ripped a bases-clearing double. All of a sudden the Yankees had the lead down to three with a runner in scoring position and nobody out, and the Red Sox had to turn to Craig Kimbrel. Fortunately, the closer got out of the jam and held the score to 6-3, giving Boston two out of three in this eventful series and a 10-2 record on the year.
The Red Sox will stay at home following this series, looking to get another win streak going against the Orioles. Game one of that series will pit Eduardo Rodriguez against Chris Tillman on Friday night with first pitch coming at 7:10 PM ET.