Saturday, May 5, 2018

Game 32: Red Sox at Texas Rangers (May 4, 2018)

Now that is what you call a bounceback. A night after getting embarrassed by Texas and enduring David Price's latest debacle, Rick Porcello took the ball for the Sox and did what an ace is supposed to do: dominate and get the team back on track. Not bad for a guy who was considered the #3 starter heading into the season. Rick pitched six strong innings, striking out eight, walking one, and only giving up a solo home run to Nomar Mazara in the bottom of the fourth. The offense did the rest and apparently, it was solo home run night. Four of the Red Sox five runs were off of solo home runs: one from JD Martinez in the second (on a ball that juuuuuust cleared the fence), one from Mookie Betts in the sixth, and two from Rafael Devers (fifth and seventh innings). They tacked another run on when Hanley drove one in in the eighth and cruised to a 5-1 win. With the Yankees also winning, the Sox stay a game ahead in the division and have two more against Texas before starting a series in New York on Tuesday.

This was a pretty crisp, cleanly played game. Porcello looked very impressive...his pitches had a ton of movement, he kept the ball down for the most part, and he kept the Rangers hitters off balance most of the night. The victory runs his record to 5-0 and what's been most impressive is the return of that bulldog/no nonsene presence on the mound that he had in 2016 when he won 22 games and the AL Cy Young award. He's been giving up far fewer home runs than he did during his disastrous 2017 and is exactly what this team has needed this season, especially when following the erratic Price in the rotation. As for the hitting, it's been great to see the power numbers rebound after last season's outage, but an awful lot of them have tended to be solo home runs, especially for Mookie. While that's a function of Mookie hitting out of the leadoff spot and isn't his fault at all, it's amazing he still has as many RBI as he does. It boggles the mind to think of how many RBI he would have with this kind of production if he were hitting out of the 3 or 4 spot. However, since he's been excellent hitting leadoff, this is another case where I hope Alex Cora doesn't mess with what's working (and so far, he hasn't nor has he shown any inclination he intends to move Mookie). 

For this weekend, the goal should be to take both of the remaining games against the Rangers to win the series and get some positive momentum heading into the Bronx. With Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale starting those games, it should be very doable. But as we've seen this season, we won't know until they play the games.

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