After last night, what do you do for an encore? Rick Porcello and the Red Sox answered that very question with one of their most dominating and enjoyable wins of the season. After outslugging the Yankees in the first game of this series, game two looked to be more of a pitcher's duel. The match up pitted Yankees ace Luis Severino against Rick Porcello. Both men were having great seasons up to this point and most of us weren't expecting there to be as many runs scored in this one as there were the previous night. While we didn't necessarily get the pitching showdown we expected, what we did get was one of the most dominating pitching performances of the season.
Things got chippy in this one in a hurry, though! Porcello hit leadoff man Brett Gardner accidentally on an 0-2 count in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning, the first pitch Mookie Betts saw was at his head and sent him sprawling to the ground to get out of the way. The home plate umpire warned both dugouts, to which Alex Cora took umbrage. I don't blame him: while Porcello's hit batter was clearly a pitch that just got away from him given the count and location (it was a fastball that ran in on Gardner a bit too much and hit him on the arm), Severino's was clearly intentional. No matter because the instant Cora got to home plate, he was tossed. That was the worst thing for the Yankees, though, because all it did was fire up the Fenway crowd and the Red Sox.
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Unlike the series opener where the Yankees jumped out to an early lead, this time the Red Sox did. The red hot Steve Pearce continued his torrid hitting with a two run homer in the bottom of the first to quickly stake the Sox to a 2-0 lead. They added to it later on when Eduardo Nunez drove in Ian Kinsler, although it was noticed after he crossed home that Kinsler came up wincing a bit. He ended up leaving the game necessitating Mookie moving to second base (remember, he was drafted as a middle infielder before the Sox converted him to an outfielder in the minors). Pearce moved to right field and Mitch Moreland, who was supposed to get the night off, manned first base. Mookie did a nice job at second, making a couple of good plays and showing off his athleticism. In the top of the third, Miguel Andujar hit a solo shot to make it 3-1 Yankees, but that would be the only hit Porcello would surrender all night. From that point onward, he retired every single Yankees batter he faced, all twenty-one of them. Moreland drove in an insurance run in the fifth (how silly does it sound to call it an insurance run that early in the game?) to put Boston up 4-1 and Rick took care of the rest. He tossed an absolute gem, going the distance without walking a single batter and striking out nine. The Andujar home run was the only hit he allowed and other than a hit batsmen (Brett Gardner) to lead off the game, no other Yankee reached base. To cap it off, Porcello did it all on only eighty-six pitches (and sixty-eight of those were strikes). The Sox only had seven hits on the night but that was more than enough to get the win.
The win was Boston's 77th on the season and pushed their division lead to a season high 7.5 games. With New York having to start minor league call-up Chance Adams in game three in place of Luis Cessa (who was forced into bullpen duty in the first game debacle), the Red Sox look to be in good shape to keep rolling. Nathan Eovaldi will take the ball for Boston and if he's anything close to how he was in first outing with the Sox, they can really bury the Yankees in the division. The intensity and mutual hatred between the two teams and fanbases are just a couple of reasons why this is the best rivalry in all of baseball and I'm looking for more snippy play in the final two games of this series. It's time for the Red Sox to continue doing damage to the Yankees, to coin a phrase that's popular with the New York GM these days.