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Red Sox 4, Yankees 1: Rick Porcello shines after early fireworks

Oh, hey there 7.5-game lead.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The Red Sox have clinched at least a split and are guaranteed at least a 5.5-game lead over the Yankees when this four-game set at Fenway is complete. That’s a hell of a thing. This one was about some fireworks and weirdness early — Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch and Mookie Betts was brushed back, Alex Cora was ejected, Ian Kinsler was hurt and Mookie Betts played second — but eventually it turned into the Rick Porcello game. The Red Sox starter was absolutely incredible all night long, allowing just a solo home run and the hit batter over eight innings of work and facing one more than the minimum possible batters. A big start in a big game, to be sure.

Early on, it appeared this was going to be a night full of fireworks at Fenway Park, both in terms of the Red Sox offense and action on the field between these two clubs. We’ll get to Porcello’s performance in full in just a minute, but for context on what happened in the bottom of the first it’s important to know that Porcello hit Brett Gardner in the first at bat of the game. Granted, it came in an 0-2 count and very much appeared to not be intentional, but given the recent history between these two clubs Gardner took exception and gave an extended look to the mound after he was hit.

Okay, so not too long after that Mookie Betts would step in to lead off the bottom of the first. Luis Severino used his first pitch to send a message, throwing it up and in around Betts’ head, knocking the Red Sox star to his feet. I also didn’t think this was intentional, but rather a pitch to send a message to the Red Sox and to take command of the inner half. Either way, the ump saw some potential for things to get ugly and warned both benches. Alex Cora disagreed with this decision and vocalized it on the field. The umpire, in turn, was not a fan of that decision, and he quickly ejected the Red Sox manager. Boston hadn’t even had a full plate appearance and I’m 250 words into this recap. It was wild!

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox would use that energy for good in that first inning, too. Andrew Benintendi started a rally by putting a groundrule double right down the right field line. That brought the red-hot Steve Pearce up, and he picked up where he left off on Thursday. Severino threw him a fastball middle-in and Pearce hit another no-doubter out to left field. Just like that, it was a 2-0 lead for the Sox. Later, Kinsler would draw a walk and steal a base before being knocked in by an Eduardo Núñez single.

The good news is the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead after one. The bad news is they suffered another hamstring injury. After losing Rafael Devers and Blake Swihart to hammy issues, Kinsler had to leave the game after scoring that run with a tight hamstring. As a result, Mookie Betts played the last eight innings at second base. It was a super weird night, you guys.

Anyway, after that first the Red Sox offense slowed down for a bit. They did get a two-out double from Betts in the second as well as a walk, but the runners were stranded. The third included just a single and in the fourth they went down in order. However, they were making Severino work and he was at 84 pitches after just four innings. One more big inning would surely knock him out of the game. They didn’t explode or anything in the fifth, but J.D. Martinez did have a two-out double that turned out to be a big one. Mitch Moreland, who entered the game when Kinsler left, was up next and hit a grounder to Gleyber Torres, who was in right field in the shift. He still couldn’t make a relatively easy play, though, allowing the ball to roll by and letting Martinez get by for Boston’s fourth run.

The Red Sox couldn’t get a run across in the sixth, but they did knock Severino out of the game. It appeared he might be able to squeeze his way through six innings, but Jackie Bradley Jr. put up a tough at bat to eventually draw a walk and draw out the Yankees bullpen. Betts would end the inning right away, however.

Meanwhile, Porcello was really impressing against this potent Yankees lineup, which remains pretty scary even without Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. After hitting Gardner to start the game, he immediately got a double play to face only three batters in the game. He’d also face three batters in the second in a more traditional 1-2-3 inning.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees would get on the board in the third, and they did so how they so often do. Porcello made a mistake and threw an awful changeup right down the heart of the zone to Miguel Andújar. The young Yankees hitter absolutely demolished it for a no-doubter out to left field, and at that point it drew New York within two. Porcello did not let that affect him too much, though, as he retired the next three batters he faced to get out of the inning.

From there, he would get back into a bit of a groove. He set the side down in order in the fourth, though all three outs were hard-hit line drives right at Jackie Bradley Jr. In the fifth, it was more pitcher-centric when he tossed a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. He’d then do the same thing in the seventh and he had only 69 pitches through seven innings of work.

Porcello had another 1-2-3 in the eighth, because of course he did. This one only included one strikeout, though. What a bum. He’d then come out in the ninth with just 78 pitches under his belt, looking for a complete game and arguably the best start of a Red Sox pitcher this year. Guess what he did? Yup. Another 1-2-3 inning to finish off the game with an 86-pitch complete game on one hit, one hit batter and nine strikeouts. Unbelievable.

The Red Sox now have an amazing 7.5-game lead over the Yankees, something I really never thought I’d say at any point this season. They can extend it even more and clinch a victory in this series on Saturday with Nate Eovaldi making his second start in a Red Sox uniform. He’ll be taking on Chance Adams, making his MLB debut. First pitch is at 4:05 PM ET.


Courtesy of Fangraphs