Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1: Three players who have resurfaced at the right time

Rob Bradford
August 30, 2017 - 10:06 pm

TORONTO -- Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland. They were all supposed to be fairly important pieces of the Red Sox' 2017 puzzle. Wednesday night they finally became perfect fits.

For much of this season, things haven't gone quite as planned for the trio. Porcello struggled mightily for the first three months, while Ramirez and Moreland hadn't allowed for the kind of consistent production at designated hitter and first base the Red Sox so desperately needed.

Well, things might be taking a turn at just the right time for the trio.

Each played enormous roles in helping hand the Red Sox a 7-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, allowing for a three-game sweep for John Farrell's club. Along with the Yankees getting swept in their doubleheader against the Indians, the Sox now head to their four-game series at Yankee Stadium carrying a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League East. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' win, click here.)

Like the Red Sox starter from the previous night, Chris Sale, Porcello bounced back from a subpar outing with some of his strongest stuff. The righty gave up just one run over 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven while allowing six hits and two walks. 

Most importantly, the Red Sox have now won five of Porcello's last six starts, with the righty allowing three runs or fewer in four of the appearances. It was a far cry from his previous six outings, in which Sox lost five of them.

"I felt fine the last one, too," Porcello said. "More importantly our team started off the road trip the right way. We got a sweep here and we got four big ones in New York."

As for Ramirez, him taking residence in lineup's seventh spot has been a revelation.

Playing at first base, Ramirez came away with two more extra-base hits, getting the Red Sox on the board with a solo homer in the fifth, and then setting up the go-ahead run two innings later with a leadoff double. For the series, which has seen the righty hitter bat seventh in all three games, Ramirez went 5-for-12 with a pair of homers.

"I tell you, the last couple of nights he’s put some really good swings on some pitches, particularly against Happ, who he hasn’t had a lot of success against," Farrell said. "He works a count deep, gets a fastball over the plate and does what he can do. His importance to us against both lefties and righties can’t be overstated. Good to see particularly against a tough left-handed pitcher."

Then there was Moreland, the regular first baseman who had originally started the game on the bench with lefty J.A. Happ starting for the Blue Jays. With the game knotted at 1-1, and righty reliever Tom Koehler on to replace Happ, Moreland came on to pinch-hit for Chris Young. The result was a mammoth two-run homer to right field. Then, for good measure, the lefty hitter singled in Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers to break things open in the eighth.

Once a lineup liabilty thanks to his broken toe, Moreland clearly has figured things out over the last few weeks. 

Since Aug. 12, Moreland is hitting .396 with four home runs and 11 RBI. This after the first baseman had watched his drop his batting average to .238 by the time August rolled around.

"I think it coincides with Hanley getting to first base," said Farrell regarding Moreland's resurgence. "Not as a direct result, but Mitch has been able to get a breather every now and then to freshen up somewhat. He’s had a grinding of a year with a broken toe, the highest number of at-bats in his career. So to get a little breather and stay fresh, he’s in a good place for the entire month."

"It's seemed to go well for me lately, I guess," Moreland said. "If I knew what the difference was, I'd try to do when I started too, I guess. It's one of those things where you try to be ready and stay in tune with the game and just wait your turn."

As Sale said Tuesday night, the Red Sox -- and some of their key players -- are seemingly getting back to where they want to be.

"I think, again, it’s a testament to the guys in our clubhouse," Farrell said. "They’re driven. They’re task oriented, so they don’t dwell on what’s happened previously, and we felt like we needed to do that coming off a tough series where we get swept at home. You never envision that, but Baltimore took it to us. We played well Sunday, I thought, and like I said before the game, felt like momentum was starting to swing back toward us with opportunities created. And we were able to do it in this series here."

The Red Sox went 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts for the series, the most SBs without getting caught in one three-game set allowed by the Blue Jays in their history. The Sox have now swiped 24 stolen bases this season against Toronto, the most for Boston against one opponent in a single season since they notchd 30 vs. the St. Louis Browns in 1943. ... Toronto's Jose Bautista went 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts Wednesday night. For the season, the outfielder is 5-for-52 (.096) with 23 strikeouts vs. the Red Sox.

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