It was not clear the Red Sox and Orioles were going to be able to get this game in, but they did just that around a couple of rain delays in the early parts of the contest. While they were playing, the Red Sox got another strong performance from their starting pitcher with Rick Porcello going six shutout innings. Boston starters are yet to allow an earned run in this second half. Meanwhile, the offense was touch-and-go but a Mitch Moreland dinger and a fifth-inning rally was enough to put five runs on the board. All in all, just another road win for a team that has a .667 winning percentage away from home. Ho hum.
The Red Sox were battling the weather as much as they were battling the Orioles in this game, but they were able to come out on top on both sides. The offense and Porcello both looked more good than great if we’re being honest, but that is more than enough against a team like the Orioles. We’ll start with Porcello, who put zeros up on the scoreboard in a solid recovery from a disaster last time out against the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox righty was pounding the strike zone in this game, which is exactly what the Red Sox want to see from Porcello. He’s obviously at his best when he’s working the edges of the strikezone, but as a pitcher who can get into trouble with the long ball it’s crucial he avoids free passes. That was part of his issue in the last game when he had some of the worst control we’ve ever seen from him in a Red Sox uniform. He made quick work of the Baltimore lineup after a long delay in the first, allowing just a weak infield single. The Orioles still only managed three batters in this inning too because Tim Beckham was caught way off first base on a pitch in the dirt.
Baltimore did have a chance in the second when Trey Mancini pulled a double down the third base line, but that came with two outs. Porcello came back with a big strikeout against Renato Nuñez to end that threat. The third saw another delay after Porcello issued his first walk of the game and resumed after about 20 minutes with a runner on first and two outs. Jonathan Schoop put good wood on the ball, smashing it out to the wall in left-center field. Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts combined for a perfect relay, however, and Jace Peterson was thrown out by a mile trying to score from first.
The fourth would also become a bit troublesome in a very confusing way. Adam Jones reached on a leadoff single before moving to second on a weak groundout. Then, with Chris Davis up, Sandy León called — and was granted — time from behind the plate, but Rick Porcello apparently moved a half-second before time was actually granted. They called him for a ridiculous balk, putting Jones on third with just one out. Porcello was clearly annoyed with the call, and he showed it with his pitching. The righty struck out Davis and Mancini to end the inning without a run crossing the plate.
Porcello made things a little easier on himself in the fifth, allowing just a single. The same would go for the sixth, and despite having just 90 pitches on the night it would end his evening. Chalk it up to the weather causing a coupe of delays. Overall it was a good night, though, as he tossed six shutout innings on six strikeouts and one walk with six hits allowed.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense had to stop and start but eventually got into a groove against Kevin Gausman and the Orioles. They went down in order to kick off the game, but that top half of the first took 47 minutes due to a rain delay being called just two batters and six minutes into the game. It was...weird and very Orioles.
In the second, they got on the board and they didn’t waste time. Mitch Moreland led off the inning and he got a fastball belt-high and a little towards the inner-half of the zone and he launched it out to center field for a solo home run. Just like that, it was a 1-0 lead. Boston would go down in order after that, but the lead was gained.
The Red Sox would go down in order in both the third and the fourth as well, settling for just one run heading into the fifth. They didn’t let that small deficit stand much longer. That inning started with a Xander Bogaerts double (his third in six plate appearances). A couple of walks later and Jackie Bradley Jr. came up to the plate with the bases loaded and just one out. Gausman continued to struggle with his control here, walking the Red Sox center fielder and helping extend their lead to two. After striking out Mookie Betts, Gausman left a pitch in the zone to Benintendi and the left fielder hit a two-run ground-rule double and just like that it was 4-0. J.D. Martinez followed that up with an infield single, and Boston exited the inning with a 5-0 lead.
Fast-forward to the seventh and Ryan Brasier came on out of the bullpen for Boston. He allowed only a single, though he got some help when Bradley made yet another amazing play in center field.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is pretty decent pic.twitter.com/fHGcci2TFg— OverTheMonster (@OverTheMonster) July 24, 2018
The eighth would belong to Brandon Workman, and he did not have a great night. His inning started with an infield single (it was a bad play by Rafael Devers whose delayed throw to first probably cost Boston a baserunner). That brought Jonathan Schoop to the plate, and Workman tossed him a first-pitch cutter over the heart of the plate. The Orioles second baseman got his arms extended and put it over the left field wall, cutting the Red Sox lead to three. Fortunately, Workman would settle down from there and retire the next three batters to limit the damage.
After a boneheaded baserunning mistake from Rafael Devers cost the Red Sox some insurance in the top of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel came on to close things out. He struggled a bit after a quick first out, allowing a double and a single in succession to cut the lead down to two with the tying run all of a sudden walking to the plate. With the rain starting to pour down again, Kimbrel got out of it with a big double play and the Red Sox left with a victory.
Boston may or may not be able to play these last two in Baltimore, but if they do they’ll be sending Drew Pomeranz out to the mound on Tuesday to take on Yefry Ramirez. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
The Red Sox also got some good news down in Florida as the Rays were able to hang on for a 7-6 victory over the Yankees. Boston now holds a six-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.