When it was announced well before the start of the 2017 Major League season, no one could have foreseen the Red Sox advantage during this random weekend of August. The schedule giveth and it taketh away, and this weekend it gives the Sox a big advantage.
While the New York Yankees tarry with a very tough and very motivated first-place Cleveland Indians team, the Red Sox this weekend are facing the decimated Chicago White Sox, already transitioned into rebuilding after a disappointing start to the year’s campaign.
Chicago, 38-49 at the All-Star break, spent July trading away the likes of Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, and Dan Jennings. Then, toward the end of the month, they lost, at least a couple weeks, top-batting Avisail Garcia to a sprained thumb.
The result is a barely recognizable major league team, the roster sprinkled with unfamiliar names who have little experience at Fenway Park.
Porcello Allows 26th Home Run
The Red Sox got the series off to a good start on Thursday with a 9-5 victory. Hanley Ramírez (2-for-4 with 2 RBI) said post-game that Brock Holt “was telling everybody…let’s go for it in the first inning, and we did,” depositing four quick runs for starter Rick Porcello.
Porcello, perhaps unaccustomed to such riches, immediately coughed back up two runs of the lead in the second.
The Red Sox added three more in the bottom of the second—only to watch Rick give all three back in the top of the very next frame on a three-run bomb to Chicago rookie Nicky Delmonico. It was his 26th home run allowed this season by Porcello, fully twice as many as the next-highest Boston pitchers (Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz), and a new single-season career mark for him.
Boston never trailed, however, tacking on more offense in the fifth and sixth frames.
Porcello lasted 5.1 IP, enough to earn the win. He’s now 5-14 with a 4.70 ERA. Porcello was followed by 3.2 IP of perfect relief from Fernando Abad, Heath Hembree, Addison Reed, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Workman.
Boston Bats Stay Hot
In all, the Red Sox offense has looked revitalized since the arrival of Rafael Devers and Eduardo Núñez to the lineup. Devers collected his third major league home run on Thursday making him the first Boston player to homer in at least three of his first eight career games since Mo Vaughn in 1991.
A couple days off (plus the rain out on Wednesday) worked wonders for Andrew Benintendi, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI, but looked lost on the base pads, twice making an out at third base.
Mitch Moreland (2-for-5 with an RBI), looking more like his first half alter ego, recorded his second straight multi-extra-base-hit game. He’s now 6-for-20 (.300) with four doubles, a home run, three walks and five RBI on the current homestand.
Red Sox Expand Lead
Thursday’s Red Sox win was made sweeter by the Indians’ (5-1) victory over the Yankees in the debut of new New Yorker Sonny Gray. Together, that gives Boston a 2.0 game lead in the American League East with both teams facing their current opponents through the weekend.
Don’t sleep on the pesky Rays, however. Tampa Bay won Thursday 5-3, coming away with a 3-games-to-1 series victory over the AL’s best team. The Rays also have a tough set this weekend, going up against the Brewers, who trail the Cubs by just a 1½ games in the National League Central division.