Red Sox beat Rays with early offense, strong Porcello outing

Apr 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Red Sox came into Wednesday night’s game looking to end a three game skid and to have Rick Porcello give them a quality start. Mission accomplished.

The Red Sox offense hasn’t gotten off to many quick starts so far this season, but they were able to do just that on Wednesday night. Both the Red Sox and Rays came into the game with a record of 6-7, and Boston was looking to move on from their second three game skid in nine games.

The Sox got to work immediately in the first with leadoff man Mookie Betts drawing a walk from Rays’ starter Chris Archer. Dustin Pedroia came to plate next and clocked a single followed by a Xander Bogaerts single to drive in Betts. David Ortiz then smashed a double to deep center driving in both Pedroia and Betts. After Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw struck out, Brock Holt would ground out to end the inning.

Boston continued the damage in the second inning. With one out and Jackie Bradley Jr. on second after hitting a double, Mookie hit a line drive rocket over the Green Monster to give the Sox a big 5-0 lead.

Archer was able to get by in the third inning only giving up a base hit to Shaw, and he got Pedroia to ground into a double play in the fourth after walking Bradley Jr. and Betts to end the inning. Boston would get back to work in the fifth however. After Bogaerts led off with a single, Big Papi hit his second RBI double of the game to deep right field to give Boston a 6-0 lead. Unfortunately, Bogaerts looked to hobble a little coming around third and was immediately removed from the game (more on that in the Game Notes section below). This would be it for Archer who continues to struggle in the early going of this season although he is thought of as a solid starter for Tampa (4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 6 SO on 84 pitches).

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On the other side, Rick Porcello looked to continue his unbeaten streak in 2016, and he looked strong early on. Whether it’s some confidence he’s gained from his recent success or possibly a boost from Boston’s early scoring in this outing, Porcello came out looking to set the tone. He was able to get the Rays to go 1-2-3 in the first and second inning with four strike outs total. After RF Steven Souza Jr reached on an infield single and stole second, Porcello got catcher Hank Conger to pop out and struck out Logan Forsythe at the top of the order to end the third.

After getting two quick outs in the fourth, Tampa finally hit Porcello hard. DH Corey Dickersond hit a double, and LF Desmond Jennings walked. Porcello was able to get out his first jam of the night with a little help from Betts when SS Brad Miller lined to right field and Betts made a great catch.

Porcello added another couple strikeouts in a quick fifth inning before finally getting hit around a little bit in the sixth. Forsythe started off the inning with a triple and was able to cross the plate with an Evan Longoria ground out. Dickerson then hit a line drive homerun that left the park in a hurry to make the score 6-2. Still, Porcello was able to get out of that inning and even came out for the seventh inning. Despite getting into a bit of trouble in the seventh and giving up another run, he got through the inning which would be his last. His final line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO on 111 pitches.

The Sox added a run in the sixth when Betts score on a Chris Young single meaning that the Sox would turn to the bullpen with a five run lead. John Farrell called Junichi Tazawa first who walked the first batter he faced in 1B Logan Morrison, but was then able to settle down and get the next the three batters to sit down.

Noe Ramirez, who was just recalled one day after being optioned to Pawtucket, came on in the ninth and pitched well including two strikeouts to end the game. The Sox earned a big all-around victory by a final score of 7-3.

These two teams will play one more tomorrow in what will be a rubber match. It will be day-time baseball at Fenway Park with a first pitch scheduled for 1:35pm. David Price (2-0, 4.50) is slated to get the start against his old mates with Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 2.41) on the mound for Tampa.

GAME NOTES:

*During and after the game, it was noted that Bogaerts suffered a “quad strain” and has been listed as “day-to-day”. For what it’s worth, he came back out into the dugout with a couple innings remaining and seemed to be in good spirits.

*Mookie Betts ended a 0-13 rut with his homerun in the second inning. He went 2-3 with 2 RBI, 2 BB and 3 runs scored on the night.

*Betts, Bogaerts, Ortiz and Shaw all had two hits on the night. Pedroia, Young, Holt and Bradley Jr. all finished with one hit each.

*Bradley Jr. was picked off at first base in the sixth inning when he was caught sleeping with a monster lead and couldn’t get back. Holt and Betts each had a stolen base.

*Chris Young came into the game when Bogaerts left and was able to get his first RBI of the season.

*Junichi Tazawa’s ERA is now 1.29.

GRADES:

A. . Game Ball. Rick Porcello. STARTING PITCHING

Porcello gave the Red Sox precisely what they needed on Wednesday night. He stopped the bleeding, got a victory and allowed the bullpen to rest. He has looked very solid so far this season, not lights out by any means, but a consistent middle-of-the-rotation guy that the Sox can lean on. He’s pitching to get outs and trying to work at a nice, quick pace. Tampa never really got going on offense.

A. . Game Ball. David Ortiz. OFFENSE

Ortiz hit two huge doubles to go 2-4 with 3 RBI. His double in the first that drove in two runs really set the tone for the night. He’s now hitting .295 with 13 RBI on the year.

A. . Game Ball. Junichi Tazawa and Noe Ramirez. RELIEF PITCHING

The Sox only needed two guys out of the bullpen and both got the job done. Tazawa let up a walk and Ramirez gave up a hit, but both basically shut the Rays down giving

Koji Uehara

and

Craig Kimbrel

some much needed rest.