BOSTON — Rick Porcello showed the Fenway faithful Saturday why the Red Sox were so eager to sign him before the 2015 season.
The right-hander went into Saturday’s game with a lot to fix; the Red Sox suffered an ugly 8-4 loss in Friday’s series opener, and Porcello himself hasn’t been consistent of late. And when Porcello started the game by allowing three straight singles to load the bases with no outs, things weren’t looking so hot.
But instead of giving up the game early, Porcello got Mariners cleanup hitter Nelson Cruz to ground into a double play, limiting the damage to one run in the first. He gave up another run in the second on a solo home run to first baseman Adam Lind, and found himself in hot water once again in the third with runners on second and third base with no outs. That’s when Porcello came up huge, striking out Robinson Cano and Cruz to hold off Seattle for the rest of his outing in an eventual 6-2 Boston win.
“It was almost a momentum shift,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “You felt it in the dugout. He came up big with two very hot hitters at the plate, two guys that have had some success against him, particularly in Cano. But, as you mentioned, the two key strikeouts shut off an inning that could have been much bigger, and then we’re able to execute some things offensively in that fifth inning to take the lead. Rick did bend early, but certainly did not break, and just a very solid and strong six innings today.”
The win was a definite pick-me-up for the Red Sox, who have been slipping in June with a 6-9 record this month. But it also helped out Porcello, who’s out to prove that maybe Boston’s rotation is just a little stronger than everyone thinks.
“I felt really good about (Saturday),” Porcello said. “Baltimore and Toronto have fantastic offensive lineups, but (Seattle’s is) right up there with them. They’re really good top to bottom. Even some of the guys that are hitting later in the lineup — Adam Lind and (shortstop Ketel) Marte and those guys — they’re all tough outs. They’re not somebody that you can just kind of breeze through. So it’s a really quality lineup over there, and you’ve got to be on your game.”
Here are some more notes from Saturday’s win.
— Hanley Ramirez made some noise in the eighth inning, hitting a big double and then scoring from second when a throw got past Marte. Third base coach Brian Butterfield had his stop sign up, and Ramirez went right through it, but the first baseman didn’t seem to know if he’d be in any trouble.
“Butter, man,” Ramirez said. “I can’t describe Butter whether he’s mad or not because he’s the same guy all the time. He brings a lot of energy every day in the clubhouse, and he keeps telling us be aggressive on the bases.”
At least Farrell seemed to like it.
“Hanley has a way of being Hanley,” Farrell said. “I guess that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s a good heads-up play. … He’s been overaggressive on a few occasions, but for the most part, he’s looking to take 90 feet, and that was the case (Saturday).”
— Xander Bogaerts, who went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the fifth inning, has an MLB-leading 31 multi-hit games this season. The shortstop also thrives in day games, with 12 multi-hit games in his last 15 such contests and a .315 average in day games overall.
— Porcello became the first Red Sox pitcher to earn a win in his first six home games since Tim Wakefield did it in 2009 and the second since Roger Clemens in 1986. He and Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez own the longest active win streak in consecutive home games in the league.
— Is Jackie Bradley Jr. the Red Sox’s next big clutch hitter? Maybe not, but he does have some pretty darn good numbers with two outs. In his career, 13 of his 26 home runs, 43 of his 95 extra-base hits and 60 of his 128 RBIs have come with two outs.
— Dustin Pedroia has failed to get a hit in three consecutive games after going 0-for-4 on Saturday. The only other time this entire season that he didn’t record hits in consecutive games was April 29 and 30 against the New York Yankees.
— Thanks to Saturday’s win, the Red Sox guaranteed they won’t be swept in this series, which has yet to happen this season.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Jun 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) pitches during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports