By MyFM's Jake Archer - Boston has a winning formula going right now. It's unrealistic to think a team will sweep every series they play, but winning almost every series is much different. If you go and take two of three or three of four consistently, you'll obviously end up being a great squad. That's what these Boston Red Sox seem to do and it's been fun to watch.
Last night, the Sox secured their series win over the Toronto Blue Jays with another 8-3 victory. Mookie Betts was still out of the lineup with side tightness, but the offense kept plugging away. This time, Rick Porcello had the ball for Boston and he was going up against Toronto's Marco Estrada. The 34-year-old righty has been having a tough year, especially against the Red Sox, and last night was really no different. In the bottom of the first, the middle of the order got to Estrada with one man down. Xander Bogaerts singled before Mitch Moreland and JD Martinez roped back-to-back doubles to put Boston on top 2-0.
In the second, the Sox stayed on him. Sandy Leon, who has been hitting much better of late, smacked a double with one out and came around to score on a two-out double by Andrew Benintendi. On the other side, Porcello was pitching well as he tried to bounce back from an ugly start last week in Tampa Bay. It wasn't until the fourth inning with one out that "Pretty Ricky" finally made a mistake and let a run get on the board. He left a pitch out to dry for the power-hitting Jays first baseman, Justin Smoak, who ripped it to right-center for a solo-shot.
The Red Sox offense picked Porcello up in the bottom half, as they grabbed the run right back. Brock Holt lined a one-out single to right and then swiped second base. After moving up to third on a groundout by Leon, Holt came around to score on a Jackie Bradley Jr. single into left field. Estrada was pulled from the game and had once again been bested by Boston. The final line for him was four runs on seven hits, no walks and one strikeout in three and two thirds innings. Toronto was going to the bullpen early and bringing in Aaron Loup.
Loup got out of the inning and pitched a scoreless fifth, but was replaced by Joe Biagini to start the sixth. Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia greeted the new guy with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. After a strikeout by Holt, Leon doubled to bring in a run and make it 5-1. Things were going smoothly and it looked like this game might just be a runaway.
Things started to unravel for Porcello a bit in the seventh. With one out, he hit Russell Martin with a pitch (which Martin seemed to take exception to) and then walked Kendrys Morales. Devon Travis followed with a single to left to load the bases, but Porcello struck out Luke Maile. The righty had pitched a great game thus far and was on the verge of getting out of some late trouble. Curtis Granderson stepped up to the dish and smacked ball between first and second that Moreland missed on a diving attempt. Pedroia was able to get to it and throw to Porcello covering first but the momentum of the throw and Porcello sprinting made the ball tap off the pitcher's glove. Porcello did a nice little faceplant after his error and two runs came in to score. Travis ended up at third and Granderson at second, so the trouble wasn't even gone either.
At this point, Alex Cora knew it was time to lift his starter. Porcello had pitched well but it was now 5-3 and he'd run out of gas. The manager called for Joe Kelly from the bullpen, who came in and punched out Kevin Pillar to end the threat. The book was now closed on Porcello and he had given up three runs (two earned) on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts in six and two thirds innings. It wasn't his best start, but it was certainly an improvement on the last disaster.
The bats would pick him, and the bullpen up with more runs in the late innings. During the bottom of the seventh, Boston got one of the runs back on another moon-shot by Xander Bogaerts. Xander really has his power stroke going this year as that was already his eighth homer. It seems like every one he hits is a total bomb too. In the bottom of the eighth, Leon kept his bat hot as well with a two-run shot to make it 8-3. The Sox had insurance, and early in the top of the ninth it looked like they might be needing it.
Hector Velazquez came in to shut Toronto down in the final frame, but instead he let up three straight hits (Morales double, Travis single and Dwight Smith single) to load the bases. After getting a fly-out, Cora decided he should probably turn to Craig Kimbrel to get the save. The closer came in and did his job quickly, ending the game with an 8-3 Boston win. Kimbrel's save was his 17th so far this season.
Porcello earned the win for the Sox and improved to 7-2 while Estrada took the L and fell to 2-6. Boston stayed two games up on the Yankees in the AL East at 38-17 and they continue to own the best record in baseball. Currently, they are in the top of the fifth inning today with a 1-0 lead on Toronto as they go for a sweep. Eduardo Rodriguez is on the hill facing off against Sam Gaviglio. Tune in on MyFM 101.3!