The Red Sox didn’t get exactly what they were looking for here, as they really could have used a blowout given how overextended the back of their bullpen is at the moment. In the end we can’t really complain too much since, you know, they won the game. Rick Porcello had one really bad inning and was more okay overall than good, but he did get through 5 2⁄3 innings and kept the team in the game long enough for the offense to mount a comeback. That they did thanks to some big hits from the bottom of the order as well as a mammoth homer — both in terms of distance and importance — from J.D. Martinez. The other big takeaway from this one was Tyler Thornburg coming through with yet another great outing. He just keeps climbing that bullpen depth chart. The Red Sox haven’t really played great baseball since the break and yet they are now 5-3. That seems okay to me.
This game went back and forth, giving us a ride on something of a roller coaster of emotions, so we’ll go in straight chronological order here. That means we start with Porcello, who looked damn good in the top of the first. Remember, he shut down Minnesota to the tune of seven shutout innings just over a month ago, so seeing him mow down the Twins with an easy 1-2-3 inning to start this game had us thinking. Things would turn a little later, but he did give the Red Sox a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the first.
They did just that, too, in what was a weird inning. The first two outs of the inning — off the bats of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts — both went to the warning track in straightaway center field and combined for 775 feet of distance. In between, Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez reached on very weak singles, and the former was knocked in on yet another single from Mitch Moreland. Then, after the loud Bogaerts, with Martinez at third base, Rafael Devers stepped to the plate. Strangely, he dropped down a bunt down the third base line. Now, it worked and he reached on a single, but Martinez was stuck at third. It was a weird play call, particularly coming off the young infielder’s huge home run the night before. It led to a bases loaded chance for Eduardo Núñez, and he hit a decently hard ground ball to the right side, but Joe Mauer made a nice play on it to end the inning and make sure Boston got just one in the first.
The Red Sox would come to regret not getting more in that inning fairly quickly when Logan Morrison walked to the plate with the bases empty and one out in the second. The Twins first baseman has had a tough year, but as he showed here he can still put a charge into bad pitches. Porcello threw one — a fastball middle-in — and Morrison crushed a no-doubter out to right field to tie the game at one.
Boston’s offense would then hit a bit of a snag against Jake Odorizzi for a couple of innings, going down in order in both the second and the third. Meanwhile, Porcello totally lost it in the top of the third. The Twins’ rally here started with a bloop single, but the contact would get harder. Joe Mauer ripped a liner into right field for a single, putting two on for should-be All-Star Eddie Rosario. Porcello did strike him out, making it look like he may escape the damage, but Jorge Polanco had other ideas. The Twins shortstop ripped a triple into the triangle area in center field, and just like that it was a two-run lead for Minnesota. Brian Dozier followed that up with a single of his own, and the Twins would leave the inning with a somewhat comfortable 4-1 lead.
From here we fast-forward to the bottom half of the fourth with that same 4-1 deficit in hand for the Red Sox. After a quick first out, Devers swung the bat in his at bat and he did damage. It wasn’t a home run, but he did get it to the seats with a ground-rule double to center field. After a Núñez walk, there were two with two outs for Jackie Bradley Jr. He came through in a big way, smashing a triple of his own to center field. Betts followed it up with a double into left field, and in the blink of an eye this game was tied at four.
After Porcello came through with a huge and easy shutdown inning in the fifth to preserve the tie, the Red Sox got back to work looking for a lead this time around. They didn’t wait very long at all with Martinez leading off the inning. The slugger got a hanging slider and he demolished it over everything in left field. 5-4 Red Sox. Boston would later get a single from Xander Bogaerts, but nothing more.
So, with the one-run lead in hand, Porcello came back out for the sixth looking for another quick one. He didn’t get off to a great start, walking Dozier to kick things off. The Twins second baseman would move to second on a bad passed ball from Sandy León, but Porcello did come back with two more outs after that. From there, Alex Cora called upon Heath Hembree to protect the lead with a runner in scoring position. Dozier would move 90 more feet on a stolen base (this ball got by León too), but Hembree got a ground out to strand the runner and preserve the lead.
With a tired bullpen (particularly the late-inning arms), the Red Sox were really in some need of insurance in the sixth, and fortunately the lineup obliged. León made up for the passed ball in the previous inning with a Fenway double off the Monster, and Bradley followed that up with a walk. After a wild pitch moved both batters into scoring position, Benintendi came through with a one-out single to plate Boston’s sixth run of the night. That was all they’d get, but it was still a two-run lead heading into the seventh.
Hembree did his job coming back out for that inning, allowing just a single in a scoreless frame. After the Red Sox stranded Núñez at third after a two-out triple, Tyler Thornburg came out for the eighth. This was a nice test for the righty, and he passed with flying colors with an easy 1-2-3 inning.
Boston came back with a big inning in the bottom half of the eighth, scoring four runs in a rally that included two intentional walks and two doubles, though it also included Devers coming up limping and leaving the game. Obviously we hope there’s nothing serious going on there. That big inning allowed the team to avoid going to Craig Kimbrel after he threw 33 pitches on Friday, too. Instead, Joe Kelly came in with the big lead. He allowed a couple of baserunners (one of them on a strikeout), but still tossed a scoreless inning to finish things up.
The Red Sox will look to finish off this series with a win to take three of four from the Twins. Boston will send Nate Eovaldi to the mound for his Red Sox debut on Sunday with Minnesota countering with Jose Berrios. First pitch is at 1:05 PM ET.
The Yankees did win tonight, but they also played a game this afternoon in which they lost. That means the Red Sox picked up a half-game on the day and have a 5.5-game lead in the division.