Alex Cora is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach with his pitching staff down the stretch.
And if the Boston Red Sox are going to lean aggressively on their best arms as they chase a wild card spot, then the offense needs to provide enough to give them the rest they need whenever possible.
That was the case Friday night as Rick Porcello gave the Sox six solid innings and the offense ran away with a 9-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles, taking the series opener at Fenway Park. The Red Sox had nine extra-base hits, including a home run from Mookie Betts.
Boston still has a ways to go in the standings, but getting through games without having to use key bullpen arms, as it did Friday with Josh Taylor and Travis Lakins combining for three shutout innings, will be key if the Sox plan on playing past September.
“That’d be great if we can do this for a month-and-a-half, if we do this for a month-and-a-half were playing in October,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Play good defense, get good at-bats, everybody contributing.
“If we’re going to be aggressive with what we’re going to try to do with the bullpen and our pitchers, there are certain games when we have the lead we have to keep going.”
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles game:
— Boston’s bench continues to validate Cora’s decision making at the plate.
Chris Owings busted the game open with a two-run, pinch-hit double in the sixth in a three-run inning for Boston. It was Owings’ first hit in a Red Sox uniform and just the latest in a long line of pinch-hitting success the Sox have had this season.
Owings, who spent the first six years of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, said his time spent in the National League has him prepared to have his name called in a pinch.
“It was funny, when I was talking to (third base coach Carlos Febles) over there at third in between pitching changes, just with being in the NL for so long, just being ready to pinch hit right there,” Owings said on NESN postgame coverage. “Got a pitch up in the zone and was able to come through.”
— Rick Porcello got a much-needed outing, gaining some footing in his 11th win of the season after giving up five earned runs last time out.
Entering Friday, the right-hander had allowed five or more runs in six of his last nine starts, allowing 13 home runs in that stretch. But he worked efficiently through the Orioles, allowing just four hits and keeping the ball in the yard.
“The mix of pitches, the breaking ball, probably, that was the best breaking ball of the season. He threw it a lot. Fastball, it was good up in the zone,” Cora said. “He did an outstanding job.”
— Taylor pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, continuing his stretch of impressive outings. He has not allowed an earned run in each of his last seven outings, striking out eight with just one walk. He has a 2.16 ERA since the All-Star break.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images