This team. Once again, much of this game seemed like it was going to be a tough one for the Red Sox. Rick Porcello did not look good at all very early on Thursday, and the offense was totally shut down by Lucas Giolito. This is a red-hot White Sox team, so it seemed reasonable to expect a loss. Porcello settled down, though, the bullpen pitched well and then the offense exploded. They’d plate nine unanswered runs and for the second night in a row the game went from a possible loss to a blowout victory in the blink of an eye. It’s fun.
Early on in this game, it seemed as though the main takeaway from this game was going to be that Rick Porcello had another rough start. It seemed that way because, well, Porcello was getting off to a rough start. The righty has sprinkled in some dominant outings in this second half, but more often than not it has seemed like he is missing his spots by a fairly significant margin, and it’s leading to the righty falling behind in counts and then giving up hard contact. In the first few innings of this game, that’s exactly what happened against the White Sox.
After a quick first out on a strikeout, he lost the zone and also failed to get any help from the umpire, who squeezed him pretty badly. It seemed to affect Porcello, who was getting noticeably annoyed and ended up issuing a walk. That brought Avisail Garcia to the plate, and Porcello may have been thinking he needs to go closer to the middle of the zone to get strikes. Or maybe he just made a bad pitch. Either scenario is possible! Whatever the case, Garcia got a fastball just below the middle of the zone and he crushed it to straightaway center. Three batters into the bottom of the first and Chicago had a 2-0 lead. After that home run Porcello would give up three more singles in that inning and Chicago left the first with a 3-0 lead.
In the second, things didn’t get much better. For the second consecutive inning he did start things off with a strikeout, but then he allowed a single and a double to put a pair in scoring position. Garcia was up again, and this time he settled for a sacrifice fly to give Chicago their fourth run. Porcello did get out of it after that, and in the third he escaped some trouble. After allowing a leadoff single followed by a walk, he got a big strikeout before inducing a huge double play to keep the White Sox at bay.
From there, he was able to settle down a bit. He was hitting his spots more and settling into a groove. It seemed as though he wouldn’t make it beyond the third inning, but he allowed just a single in the fourth before tossing a 1-2-3 fifth.
Unfortunately, while this was happening the Red Sox offense was being totally and utterly being shut down by Lucas Giolito. The White Sox pitcher has awful numbers on the year, but that’s not a fair description of his pitching skills. The righty has immense talent and has been better of late. When he gets into trouble, it’s because he loses control and walks the entire lineup. On Thursday, he was hitting the zone on a consistent basis, and the Red Sox took some time to adjust.
It actually seemed like that might not be the case very early on as Mookie Betts drew a walk right off the bat. That appeared to be a sign that they’d be able to work some good at bats against Giolito, and that thought was reinforced when Andrew Benintendi made him throw eight pitches in the next at bat. Unfortunately, Betts was picked off in the middle of that eight-pitch at bat, and said at bat ended with a strikeout. In all, Giolito would face just three batters in the first.
In fact, Giolito would face the minimum in the second. Then in the third. Then in the fourth. Through the first twelve batters of the game, Giolito didn’t need to face an extra batter in any inning and he hadn’t allowed a hit. In the fifth, the offense finally got going to some degree. Xander Bogaerts gave Boston their second baserunner of the game when he reached on a throwing error, so the no-hitter was still going. After a couple of quick outs, Ian Kinsler gave Boston their first hit of the game and Sandy León got hit by a pitch. Suddenly, the bases were loaded and Jackie Bradley Jr. had a chance to tie it with one swing of the bat. He did make good contact, but he ripped one right at the first baseman to record the third out and keep the score at 4-0.
The Red Sox would waste a leadoff baserunner in the sixth, and then Porcello went out and let up a leadoff baserunner in the bottom half. That would represent the end of his night, but Brandon Workman came on and induced a quick double play before ending the frame with a strikeout.
In the seventh, the Red Sox started to break through. Their rally started with a Brock Holt walk, and Ian Kinsler quickly followed that with a double to put two in scoring position with one out. León was due up, but Blake Swihart got the call to pinch hit and he came through with an RBI single, cutting the deficit to three. Bradley followed that up with a sacrifice fly, and the Red Sox were down by only two with Betts coming up. He needed just one swing to tie it up as the superstar launched one into the left-field seats. Just like that, it was a 4-4 game.
With a brand new ballgame, Joe Kelly was called upon in the bottom of the seventh. He’d allow a leadoff single but get three straight outs after that to keep the game tied. In the eighth, both sides would go down in order with Brasier pitching on the Sox side of things.
So, we headed to the ninth in a tie game and after a quick first out the Red Sox got a rally going. Kinsler and Swihart got on with a single and a walk, and Bradley came through with an RBI single to give Boston a 5-4 lead. After Betts struck out with runners on the corners, Benintendi came through amid a big slump, sneaking an RBI single through the middle to extend the lead to two. Martinez then blasted a three-run homer the other way, and just like that it was a five run lead.
So, with the extended lead it was Heath Hembree coming on for the ninth. He’d toss a scoreless inning and close out another win for the Sox.
So, the Red Sox have suddenly won three in a row after getting swept by the Rays, and they’ll try to make it four on Friday back in Chicago. Boston will send Nathan Eovaldi to the mound and he’ll take on old friend Michael Kopech. First pitch is at 8:10 PM ET.
In the division race, the Red Sox were able to pick up another game in the standings. The Yankees blew a two-run lead in the ninth and lost by a run to the Tigers. Boston now leads the AL East by 8.5 games.