Boston Red Sox: Rick Porcello takes his turn in the limelight

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 03: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates at the end of the game after the victory over the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 3, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 03: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates at the end of the game after the victory over the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 3, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

In Game 2 of the New York Yankees series, the Boston Red Sox gave the ball to Rick Porcello. In return, he gave them his best outing of the year.

At the start of Friday’s game against the New York Yankees, it looked like the Boston Red Sox were headed for anything but a normal outing from Rick Porcello. Well, it turned out they weren’t, just not in the way you might expect.

Porcello started the game by hitting Brett Gardner with an inside sinker on an 0-2 count. Against any other team, that pitch goes by without a second thought. A bad and mislocated pitch that you move on from. But this was the Yankees.

In the bottom of the first, Yankees ace Luis Severino took the first chance he got to retaliate. He threw a fastball right at Mookie Betts‘ chin, a pitch that clearly had some intent. Both benches were warned right away.

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Red Sox manager Alex Cora, like anyone with a brain, was upset that both teams were penalized. Justifiably, he sprinted out of the dugout, cursing out Severino and the ump the whole way. He was tossed, his first ejection since getting back in the Red Sox clubhouse. Still, his point was valid. Porcello made a bad pitch. Severino and the Yankees got the wrong message.

As all of this started, every fan must have thought the same thing: We remember what happened back in April. Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin certainly do. The Boston Red Sox and Yankees are headed for an old-fashioned bloodbath.

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That was until Rick Porcello started to take over.

After another Steve Pearce homer and a couple more hits, the 2016 Cy Young Award winner had a 3-0 lead to work with right away. The struggling Severino looked rattled after the episode and never really calmed down. He would be gone after 5 and 2/3 innings with 4 earned, 3 walks, and 7 hits to his name.

Porcello only seemed to get calmer as the game went along. Even after Miguel Andujar took a fastball down the middle into the Monster seats, every other Yankees batter was looking for answers.

It felt like a no hit outing, it nearly was. When Yankee batters swung at the first few pitches, soft contact was usually the end result. When they did manage to get the barrel on the ball, it would find a Red Sox fielder in the perfect position to make an out. If they waited on Porcello to make a mistake, he drilled fastballs and looped in curveballs for first pitch strikes.

Porcello was controlling and commanding every pitch, the two things every pitcher needs to be successful. Six batters in a row headed back to the bench, 12 batters, 15, before you knew it 8 innings were through and Porcello hadn’t even reached 80 pitches and just two had reached. The hectic start that featured a manger getting ejected and benches being warned had turned into a slow, dare I say boring game between two often heated rivals.

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The 9th inning was no different. Rick Porcello threw two pitches to Austin Romine, ending with a line out to center. Just one pitch to Neil Walker, and Jackie Bradley caught out number two. And then, after firing in two fastballs for strikes, a foul ball, and one miss, Brett Gardner grounded out softly to end the game. Ho-hum, 21 straight retired, just one hit and one run allowed in a complete game win against the Yankees. A gem.

Porcello was just about perfect and the Red Sox now take a 2-0 lead against the Yankees, stretching their division lead to 7.5 games, the largest it’s been all year.

A day after the offense took the headlines, a few days after Chris Sale went on the disabled list, two days before David Price will face the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, Porcello delivered his best outing all season.

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The postseason may be two months away, but the Boston Red Sox are still waiting for a second starter to emerge in this rotation. If he gives this ball club even a sliver of what we saw tonight, Rick Porcello might just be that guy.