The pattern for the Red Sox over the last few weeks is becoming increasingly clear. Against good teams, they just haven’t gotten the job done. There have been positives, as there were at times this past weekend against the Dodgers, but overall these games have been negatives. They have, however, picked up wins against bad teams at a fairly high clip. Even those games haven’t been pretty, though. More often than not, the pitching has been decent-to-bad with the offense having to do the heavy lifting. That was the case here as well, with the Red Sox making some mistakes in the field and on the bases to boot. But, ultimately, this team needs wins and that is what they got in this game. It was just closer than it should have been.
At some point, the Red Sox are going to need to get their starting pitching back on track. Rick Porcello wasn’t terrible in this start in terms of results, but this really wasn’t what the team was looking for from the righty against a, frankly, bad offense. For this night specifically, though, it didn’t really matter. The offense got a nice, early lead and added another big inning on top of it to mask any issues on the mound. When they have been winning of late — mostly against bad teams, of course — this has been the story. Mediocre pitching being overshadowed by big, early offense.
In the bottom of the first, after Porcello had allowed a leadoff double but nothing else in the top half of the frame, the Red Sox went to work against Trent Thornton. It started with Mookie Betts, who has proven to be a key cog at the top of this lineup. It seems when he starts a game with a bang, the rest of the lineup follows suit. Here, he started the night with a double ripped off the Monster in left field. Then, with one out, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez drew walks to load the bases.
This is when the real fun began. Andrew Benintendi came up next and he has been swinging a slightly better bat of late. He got good wood on this one, smacking a single into right field to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead and keep the bases loaded with just one out. Michael Chavis came up next, and he had a very Michael Chavis swing Thornton left a fastball right over the exact center of the strike zone, and the Red Sox rookie demolished it out to left field for his first career grand slam. Just like that, it was a 5-0 lead for the Red Sox after the first inning.
Now, it was simply on Rick Porcello to not blow this substantial lead he was handed so early in the game. It didn’t take him too long to give some of those runs right back, though. It was Randal Grichuk starting this inning by pushing a single through the left side. Porcello came back and got a couple of outs after that, but then Billy McKinney came to the plate. The former Yankee prospect had just been called back up to the majors prior to this game, and in his first at bat back with the big club he jumped on a middle-in two-seam fastball. It was blasted into the Red Sox bullpen, and just like that the Blue Jays were back within three.
After Boston went down in a scoreless second, Toronto got right back to work in the third against Porcello. He was just way too hittable in this game and that was never more evident than in this inning. It started with a Freddy Galvis single and then a couple batters later Cavan Biggio had a single of his own. That brought Grichuk to the plate, and he’d bring another run home with an RBI double. Justin Smoak then came up in what was suddenly at two-run game and he got one of them home on a ground out. Porcello did leave the tying run at third base, but just an inning and a half after the Red Sox had taken a 5-0 lead, the Blue Jays were within one.
Fortunately, the offense was ready for another explosion in the bottom of the third to really put this game away. This entire rally was completed with two outs, too, and it started with the bottom of the order. Sandy León and Brock Holt both got on before Betts drew a walk to load the bases for Rafael Devers. The third baseman came through with a base hit, getting two runs home. Bogaerts then got one more home on a base hit before, a couple batters later, Andrew Benintendi knocked in two more with a double. Just like that, with a five-run two-out rally, the Red Sox were back up by six.
That ended the action for a bit with pitching on both sides settling down after that. For Toronto, that meant the bullpen but for the Red Sox it meant Porcello. He was much better in the second half of his outing, allowing a baserunner in each of his final three frames but not letting them get beyond first base. He needed a lot of pitches, but he did make it through six innings. A better team probably knocks him out much earlier, to be fair, but the team at least did get some length.
After Porcello exited the game, it was Marcus Walden coming on for a perfect seventh. In the eighth, it was Ryan Brasier, but he was not perfect. Instead, he’d allow three straight hits and two runs total to allow Toronto to get within four. Eric Sogard then dropped down a bunt single against Brasier, and Devers made a very poor decision to try and throw behind the runner at second. That led to runners on the corners with two outs, and Brasier’s night was done.
Matt Barnes had to come in to try and get out of this jam with Freddy Galvis at the plate, and the Red Sox righty immediately threw a wild pitch. The runner at third couldn’t score, but Sogard moved to second. Then, a few pitches later, Galvis came through with a base hit and suddenly it was a 10-8 game. Barnes did get the final out after that, but this was suddenly a game again.
That was still the score as we headed into the ninth with Brandon Workman coming to the mound to try and finish this game off. Fortunately, he did not mess with our hearts in this game. The righty came through with an easy 1-2-3 inning to finish off the game and go home with the save.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays continue their series on Tuesday night. It will be the Red Sox debut for Andrew Cashner. Toronto has not yet announced their starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.