BOSTON — Rick Porcello’s second season with the Red Sox has been much better than his first.
The Sox starter improved his record to 16-3 on Sunday with Boston sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 16-2 win at Fenway Park.
Porcello went seven innings and allowed just one run on three hits, while striking out four and walking no one. His only blemish was a solo homer to Michael Bourn in the fourth inning, and he bounced back with three straight 1-2-3 frames to close his outing.
“Just a model of consistency,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Porcello. “Down in the strike zone — I think through seven innings they only put five balls in the air. His best pitching came right in the first inning. A ball to left field that (Andrew) Benintendi is aggressive and overthrows, ends up with a man on second base — (Porcello) navigated his way through that first inning to keep any damage from happening.
“Like I said, very consistent, quality strikes, particularly in the bottom of the strike zone. And you can see the attack plan for the individual hitters unfold as he worked around the strike zone to certain spots. Just an impressive, comfortable seven innings of work.”
Wins and losses aren’t the best stat to use in Cy Young debates, but it’s hard to ignore Porcello’s MLB-leading 16 victories. His 3.30 ERA ranks ninth in the American League, and his 1.05 WHIP, 129 strikeouts and 3.2 WAR also are impressive. He’s probably going to be in the mix for the award as the regular season closes.
More importantly, Porcello is giving his best at a critical time in the season as the playoff race intensifies. He’s won nine of his last 11 starts, and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of those outings. That’s the consistency Farrell was talking about.
Here are some other notes from Sunday’s game.
— Another interesting stat on Porcello — he’s 12-0 at Fenway Park this season.
— Mookie Betts hit three home runs and tallied eight RBIs. It’s the second time he’s hit three home runs in one game this season. The only other Red Sox player in team history with multiple 3-HR games in one season is Ted Williams.
Watch Betts’ three homers here.
— Dustin Pedroia had five hits out of the leadoff spot. It was the fifth five-hit game of his career, which is the most ever in Red Sox history.
— A three game series against the majors’ 30th-ranked team in ERA might have been just what Boston needed to jump-start its offense for the pennant race. The Red Sox scored 31 runs on 38 hits in this three-game series.
— The Red Sox entered Sunday with a .782 OPS from the No. 9 spot in the lineup, which leads the majors. Andrew Benintendi is hitting .381 (8 for 21) from that spot, including two hits Saturday night. He collected two more hits from that spot Sunday, one of which was an RBI double. His batting average rose to .394 overall.
— Hanley Ramirez will go on the bereavement list for three days, according to Farrell.
— Steven Wright has been placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to last Monday, per Farrell. This means Clay Buchholz will start Thursday against the Detroit Tigers.
— Boston will play just 16 home games for the rest of the season. Thirty of its remaining 46 games are on the road. The Sox travel to Cleveland for a makeup game with the Indians on Monday, which begins an 11-game road trip. They don’t return home until Aug. 26.
— The Red Sox have won three games in a row for the first time since July 19-21.
— Zack Greinke entered Sunday with a 2-4 record and a 2.81 ERA in 41 and 1/3 innings in his career against the Red Sox. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings and allowed nine earned runs on 10 hits Sunday. Only once in his career has he allowed more runs in a game, and it came in 2005.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Aug 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports