Rick Porcello pitches in with big start in Red Sox’ blowout win against Twins
MINNEAPOLIS — Worry not: The Red Sox’ Cy Young winner is back in form.
Rick Porcello threw his best game of the season yesterday, firing seven overpowering innings in the Sox’ 11-1 win against the Minnesota Twins.
“As he’s been the last four times out,” manager John Farrell said of Porcello. “A lot of good command to his stuff. There was a constant mix of the four pitches for him. Seven strong innings again today. Finally, we scored for him. .?.?. He didn’t let the lead take him away from his game and gave us the needed innings today.”
The run total marked a season high for the Sox, who scored eight times in the second inning after there were two outs recorded. They had scored eight in a game just twice before.
Chris Young hit two home runs to pace the offense. Both homers were solo shots, including one in the big second inning.
Porcello is settling in nicely, and at a good time, while the rotation overall has allowed two runs or fewer in 12 of the past 16 games. With Steven Wright out for the year with a knee injury and David Price still recovering from an elbow strain, the Sox needed Porcello to turn it around. The 2016 AL Cy Young winner posted a 7.56 ERA through his first three starts this year, but he wasn’t worried.
“It is what it is,” Porcello said of his rough start. “You go out there and see what you’ve got and make the adjustments you need to make.”
Over his last four starts, Porcello (2-4) has a 1.69 ERA with 26 strikeouts to just five walks in 262/3 innings. Against Minnesota, he allowed seven hits while striking out six without a walk. The Twins were held to the one run on a Robbie Grossman homer in the third inning.
“The consistency of not letting any of those innings spiral out of control,” Porcello said. “That’s always one of the biggest things for a starting pitcher, getting back to controlling the tempo of the game and executing pitches.”
Young opened the scoring in the second inning with his first homer off Minnesota starter Nick Tepesch, who made his first big league start since 2014, before Sandy Leon singled to start a new rally. Josh Rutledge then hit a grounder that should have resulted in an inning-ending force play, but Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco bobbled the ball and everybody was safe. Mookie Betts walked, then Dustin Pedroia hit a bases-clearing double. Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland followed with consecutive hits to push the lead to 8-0.
Tepesch (0-1) was charged with seven of the runs in 12/3 innings, but the final six were unearned after the Polanco error.
Young homered again in the fifth, and by that point, Porcello was on cruise control.
“Yeah, it was awesome,” he said. “We just exploded. The bats came alive there.”
Last year, Porcello received the most run support in the majors, with the Red Sox averaging 6.83 runs. Entering yesterday, he had received just 3.4 runs per game this season.
“You can’t control anything else besides your preparation and what pitch you decide to throw and how you execute it,” Porcello said. “Other than that, really, it’s a wasted time for you to be thinking about other things or allow that to bother you because it’s out of your control. I go out there and try to do my job. We have a hell of a ballclub. Offense, it’s always going to be one of those things where you’re going to score a ton of runs and then there are going to be ups and downs, and the same thing for pitching, but if we can be more consistent as a pitching staff and maintain that through the course of the year, that’s going to help us weather the storm and be more consistent through those ups and downs.”
Bogaerts, Benintendi and Leon all finished with three hits. Leon punctuated the scoring with a solo homer in the ninth.
The final Twins pitcher was a position player. Chris Gimenez, a catcher by trade, came in with two runners on and retired Bogaerts and Benintendi on a lineout and flyout, respectively.