The Red Sox have won three in a row and got off to the start they were looking for against the Orioles this weekend. Boston did well in every facet of the game on Friday en route to an easy win over Baltimore. Rick Porcello got the start and while he wasn’t dominant (and probably would have been served with more damage early in his start against a better lineup) he made it through six innings with just one run allowed. The middle of the order was great all night with Andrew Benintendi leading the way, and further down Chris Owings had the hit to break the game open in a pinch hitting appearance. The bullpen then did the job with a big lead and we all went home happy.
After grabbing a big series win on the road in Cleveland, there were two ways to look at this series against Baltimore. On the one hand, the more positive among us could look at it as a good chance to keep the momentum, grab a sweep and actually put the team back in a legitimate playoff position, albeit still unlikely. The more negative, meanwhile, could look at it as a potential letdown, a type of series we’ve seen plenty of this season. With Rick Porcello on the mound, there was certainly potential for the latter.
However, with the way the Red Sox bats are going right now and the way Aaron Brooks, the Orioles starter for the night, has pitched since he arrived in Baltimore, there was plenty of potential for the former as well. In the bottom half of the first, they stayed hot at the top of the order. Mookie Betts set the tone in the first at bat of the frame when he launched one high off the Monster in left-center field for a leadoff double. Rafael Devers then smacked a base hit off the Monster, and two batters in the Red Sox had a 1-0 lead.
After Xander Bogaerts drew a walk, they had a chance at a huge inning with one run already in and two more on with nobody out. The middle of the order was coming up, too, but J.D. Martinez couldn’t get it done. Instead, he hit into a big double play, moving Devers up to third but putting a huge dent into the whole big inning plan. Sure enough, Andrew Benintendi followed that up with a ground out of his own, and Boston settled for just the one run.
On the other side, Rick Porcello had a solid first couple of innings. In the first, the Orioles jumped on everything early, swinging at all six pitches he threw in the inning. They did get a leadoff single from Jonathan Villar but that was it in a relatively easy inning for the righty. In the second, he didn’t allow any baserunners though the Orioles did make him throw more pitches. Still, all told he allowed just one baserunner through two scoreless innings.
With the score still 1-0 heading into the top of the third, the Orioles did get to the Red Sox righty. Porcello did get a couple of quick outs to start things off, but then the top of the order came back around and did a little damage. Villar started the rally with his second single of the game, and he showed just how much damage he can do with his legs. Trey Mancini continued what has been a great season with a double out to the right field corner. Betts did a great job of cutting it off, but it wouldn’t matter with Villar’s speed and the Orioles tied the game.
The Red Sox couldn’t answer back in the bottom of the third, but they did so in the bottom of the fourth. There, it started with Martinez who spoiled that potential rally in the first. This time he smashed one to the left side that got by Rio Ruiz at third base for a one-out double. Benintendi then followed that up with a ball out to the triangle in center field, resulting in a 2-1 lead for the Sox and an easy, standup triple for Benintendi. After Vázquez struck out with the runner on third and one out, Mitch Moreland picked him up on a weird play. The first baseman hit a high fly ball out towards the right field corner, but DJ Stewart was shaded way towards center field. He ran a long way but couldn’t quite corral the fly ball. That gave the Red Sox their second triple of the inning and their second run of the frame, as well as a 3-1 lead in the game.
Now it was up to Porcello to keep up his solid game and preserve this lead. The Orioles did get themselves a chance in the fifth when the bottom two hitters in the lineup, Chris Davis and Chance Sisco, drew a walk and hit a single with one out. That gave the Orioles a real opportunity to at least chip into this lead with the top of the order coming up for a third time. Porcello got Villar for the first time on the evening for the second out, bringing Mancini up in a huge spot. It was potentially the biggest at bat of the game, and Porcello got a weak pop up out to left field to end the inning and keep the lead at three.
Baltimore got right back to it in the sixth, though, once again a runner on with just one out. This time Jace Peterson had a chance to keep the inning going, but instead Porcello got a big double play ball to end the inning, keep his pitch count in the 80s and most importantly hold Boston’s lead at two.
When we got to the bottom of the sixth, the Red Sox added on a little insurance just to make sure things were safe. They worked the bases loaded thanks to Martinez being hit by a pitch, Benintendi hitting a single and Sam Travis getting intentionally walked, bringing Chris Owings to the plate as a pinch hitter with one out. The infielder came through with a big double out to left field, driving in two and pushing the lead to four. Jackie Bradley Jr. brought one more home with a sacrifice fly, and suddenly it was a 6-1 lead for Boston.
Porcello was pulled in the sixth, and now it was up to the bullpen to hold the lead for the final three frames. Josh Taylor got the first call for the seventh, and he came through with a perfect 1-2-3 inning.
After the Red Sox added on two more in the seventh thanks to more production from the middle of the order, Travis Lakins came on for the eighth. He allowed two to reach but left them stranded in a scoreless inning. Boston added one more in the eighth on a solo homer from Betts, Lakins was back out for the ninth. He tossed a perfect, 1-2-3 inning to wrap this one up.
The Red Sox and Orioles get right back into it on Saturday for the second game of this series. Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound for the Sox in this one while Baltimore counters with Asher Wojciechowski. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.