I’m not even sure what else there is to say about the Red Sox right now. It’s pretty much impossible for a team to be clicking any more than this team is. The pitching has been great, the offense is building early leads and never looking back and the bullpen isn’t giving up late runs to make things more stressful than they have to be. Things are good, and on Wednesday it continued with a big outing from Rick Porcello and six runs in the first three innings highlighted by a Rafael Devers grand slam. That’s now 15 wins in the season’s first 17 games. Pretty good!
Much like they did in the fist game of this series, and really much like they’ve done since getting back to that season-opening series in Florida, the Red Sox offense got started early and made the opponents starter work. This clearly isn’t as big of an emphasis this year with aggressive approaches being preached at the plate, but it still doesn’t hurt to see pitches, particularly when your opponent needed to get seven innings out of its relief corps the night before. Tyler Skaggs had more success than Shohei Ohtani in the series opener, but it certainly wasn’t anything close to a stress-free outing.
This time it didn’t start with Mookie Betts, who recorded an out for the first time in the series to start the game. Hanley Ramirez came up after him and ripped a double on a scorched line drive as he continues to destroy every pitch that comes his way. A couple batters later Mitch Moreland would come up with a lefty on the mound, two outs and a runner in scoring position, and he came through in a big spot. The first baseman smacked a line drive into right field and just like that the Red Sox opened up a little lead before their opponent even had a chance to get on the board. A walk and a wild pitch would get two runners in scoring position for Devers, but his big swing wouldn’t come until later in the game.
The Red Sox held on to that 1-0 lead into the third after they went down in an easy 1-2-3 inning in the second, and this is where they really pulled away. This time Betts was able to get things rolling with a base hit, and a couple more singles would load the bases up for Moreland with nobody out. He came through again, continuing to make the most of his playing time, pushing a single through the left side to double the lead to 2-0. After Eduardo Nuñez struck out for the first out of the inning, Devers came up and didn’t miss his chance this time around. The young third baseman got a curveball that stayed in the bottom half of the zone and he lifted it just over the wall in right field for yet another grand slam for this Red Sox team. Just like that, Boston had a 6-0 lead and the game felt safely in hand with just one swing of the bat. They’d add another later in the game on a solo homer from J.D. Martinez on a pitch that looked well below the strike zone, and then they’d add two more in the ninth when Moreland popped a two-run home run. Martinez and Moreland hit 3-4 in today’s lineup and they combined to go 7-9 with a couple of homers, five RBI (four belonged to Moreland) and five runs scored. Seems pretty good.
Speaking of the pitching, Porcello went out and had another outstanding start against a great offense to continue his tremendous start to the season. It’s been said a million times and it might be a little unfair to put the expectations on the righty, but he’s looking a helluva lot like the 2016 version of himself that ultimately took home the top prize for pitchers. He wasn’t totally dominant in this outing and found himself in trouble in a couple of different spots, but Porcello found a way to pitch around trouble and miss bats when he absolutely had to.
The bottom half of the first inning was one of those times he found himself in some trouble, and it seemed as if he was going to cough up that early 1-0 lead he was handed. The Angels started things off with a couple of singles, and after a strikeout they got one more single to load the bases with just one out. Porcello needed a ground ball or to at least miss some bats, and he went with the latter route. He turned to that four-seamer that he uses when he’s looking for strikeouts, and it worked masterfully as he got two huge K’s to end the inning with the lead intact.
Porcello would then get through an easy second before getting into more trouble against the top of that Angels lineup, again allowing the first two batters to reach. Once again, he’d get some relatively weak contact and miss some bats and the runners would be stranded. The righty would allow a couple more hits here and there, but this was another instance of him struggling a bit early in the game before settling down. The difference this year seems to be that he’s not letting those first-inning struggles snowball into a ton of damage, but instead getting out of jams then getting into his rhythm. Overall, he lasted six shutout innings on Wednesday in which he allowed six hits and struck out six Angels. Perhaps most notable was that he didn’t walk a batter and he still has allowed just one free pass in his four starts to start the year.
So, it was up to the bullpen to finish off yet another non-competitive game and make sure it stayed that way. Carson Smith got the call in the seventh, and he’d get through a scoreless frame with one baserunner. Marcus Walden tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Craig Kimbrel came into a nine-run game to throw a scoreless ninth and finish off yet another convincing win.
The Red Sox will look to complete a sweep on the road against a team that was the hottest in baseball entering this series. They’ll be sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to take on Nick Tropeano, with first pitch coming at 10:07 PM ET.