BOSTON — Rick Porcello and the Red Sox have had quite the mutually beneficial relationship this season.
The right-handed starter once again delivered a winning performance at Fenway Park on Monday night, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to three runs over seven innings in Boston’s 9-4 win to improve to 18-3 on the season.
Porcello’s 18 wins move him past Toronto Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ for the most in Major League Baseball, and his 13-0 record at home is the best start to a season by a Red Sox pitcher at Fenway since Dave Ferriss started 13-0 in 1946.
Porcello certainly is deserving of his sterling record, as he now owns a 3.26 ERA this season and boasts a 2.97 ERA at Fenway. But he has gotten plenty of help from his friends.
After Monday’s nine-run outburst, the Red Sox have scored an average of 6.26 runs in Porcello’s 27 starts this season. Only Stephen Strasburg (6.57) and Happ (6.28) have enjoyed better run support among qualified pitchers in 2016.
For Red Sox manager John Farrell, however, the Red Sox’s success at the plate during Porcello’s starts is no coincidence.
“I truly believe that our guys feel relaxed, confident, however you want to describe it, knowing that Rick’s on the mound,” Farrell said after the game. “Whether that allows us to go out and have more quality at-bats or maybe not press like we have to get something done knowing that Rick is going to keep us in the ballgame (by) likely (allowing) low runs, it’s been a fantastic combination.”
Porcello admittedly has benefited from good fortune during his terrific 2016 campaign, but it’s hard to argue the results: Boston boasts a 20-7 record in his outings this year and has lost just twice in the last 14 times he’s taken the mound.
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Rays:
— Mookie Betts launched his 30th homer of season in the second inning, which brings us to the stat of the night:
Good luck keeping a level head after being compared to Manny Ramirez, Mookie.
— Betts also received a pretty big vote of confidence from former Cy Young award winner Dwight Gooden before Monday’s game.
— David Ortiz hit his MLB-leading 42nd double of the season in the fifth inning. With 31 games still left to play, Ortiz is just 10 doubles shy of reaching his career high of 52 two-baggers, which he pulled off in 2007.
— Xander Bogaerts’ woes continued at the plate with an 0-for-5, two-strikeout effort. But he did make the defensive play of the night, ranging far to his left to snag a Logan Forsythe grounder and firing to first on a play that was overturned to an out call after Farrell’s challenge.
— The Red Sox are about to get more depth at catcher, as Ryan Hanigan is expected to rejoin the club on its West Coast swing, which begins Friday in Oakland. Hanigan has been on the disabled list since Aug. 6 with left ankle tendinitis.
— Koji Uehara threw what Farrell described as an “aggressive” 25-pitch batting practice session to hitters before Monday’s game.
The Red Sox reliever, who has been out since July 19 with a torn pectoral muscle, is scheduled to throw a bullpen Wednesday morning and another batting practice session Saturday in Oakland. If all goes well, Uehara could be back in the Red Sox’s bullpen as early as next Monday.
“It’s been impressive to see how he’s handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP,” Farrell said Monday. “… He has the chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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