Rick Porcello, Red Sox roll past Yankees
The Red Sox didn’t add a starting pitcher before the non-waiver trade deadline, but the Rick Porcello who has pitched for them since July 4 has provided the same type of boost as adding an extra ace.
The 2016 American League Cy Young Award winner’s recent resurgence continued yesterday with another quality start and his fourth straight victory in a 5-1 win against the New York Yankees in the rubber game of a weekend series at Fenway Park.
The Sox have won four of their past five games against the Yankees and now lead the AL East by five games. Porcello gutted through six innings on 103 pitches, allowing one run on three hits, walking three and striking out four.
He has a 3.38 ERA in his past eight starts to lower his season ERA to 4.48.
“A mix of different pitches, nothing in particular was really on fire,” Porcello said after he improved to 8-14 overall and 1-3 against the Yankees this season. “The walks were a little concerning but we were able to pitch out of it, and I can’t say enough about how our offense battled. They really grinded their starter down and did a hell of a job, and then we were able to get those runs across late in the game.”
Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI, and Sandy Leon was 2-for-3 with a two-run double in the eighth inning to make sure the work of Porcello and relievers Brandon Workman, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel (one perfect inning each) didn’t go to waste.
Bradley tripled home two runs in the second inning against Yankees starter Sonny Gray and then singled in a run in the sixth against reliever Adam Warren.
In the series win against the Yankees, Bradley was 5-for-10 with six RBI after going 3-for-21 in his prior seven games.
“It’s a start,” Bradley said. “You definitely want to be able to start swinging the bats well, be productive and help the team any way you possibly can. And I hope it continues.”
Gray was the Yankees’ marquee pickup before the trade deadline in a deal with Oakland. In his first start against the Sox with New York he threw 106 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out none — the first time in his career he failed to strike out anyone in a start.
Porcello only allowed two baserunners in an inning twice and he escaped both times, including a first-and-second jam with one out in the top of the fourth. Porcello got Todd Frazier to pop out, then he struck out Tyler Austin.
Brett Gardner hit a one-out, line-drive homer to right field in the top of the fifth for the lone Yankees run.
“The numbers show that he’s winning more games,” Sox manager John Farrell said about Porcello. “But that’s been a combination of a few things. He’s maintained the strike zone. He’s been better to the overall quality in the strike zone with command. And we’ve scored runs for him.”
Porcello’s 43 quality starts since the start of 2016 ties him with teammate Chris Sale and Detroit’s Justin Verlander for the most in the AL. More importantly, he helped the Sox build a cushion for the division lead.
“Well, we’d much rather be in this position than being five games back, that’s for sure,” Porcello said. “But everybody knows there’s a lot of baseball left to be played even heading into September. Especially in this division, no lead is big enough.”