Rick Porcello dominated in winning his 21st game of the season, Monday night at Camden Yards. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)
BALTIMORE — When you’re kicking off the most important series of the season, it probably isn’t a bad thing when you do so with the pitcher steaming his way toward the American League Cy Young award.
That’s exactly what the Red Sox were reminded of Monday night at before 18,456 fans at Camden Yards.
In a year that has now seen Rick Porcello garner 21 wins, this one might have been the most impressive, and certainly was the most important. The Red Sox ace dominated the O’s in leading John Farrell’s team to a 5-2 win, pushing its lead in the American League East to four games.
The performance was Porcello’s second complete game of the season and marked the 11th straight start he has gone at least seven innings. The righty’s ERA would have stood at 3.03 — the exact same as perhaps his most formidable competition for the Cy Young, Chris Sale — but Adam Jones took the Sox pitcher deep with a solo blast with two outs in the eighth inning.
Porcello allowed just two runs on four hits, striking out seven and not walking a batter. Perhaps most impressive was that it took the righty just xxx pitches to complete the effort. The starter didn’t have a single three-ball count until his 22nd batter of the game, going to a full count on Mark Trumbo.
Making sure Porcello’s effort didn’t go for naught, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz continued to absolutely torture the Orioles via the home run ball.
For Betts, his two-run homer in the second inning was his eighth of the season at Camden Yards this season. It is the most by a visiting player since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954.
Ortiz’s two-run blast in the fifth inning also added to history, with the Red Sox designated hitter now equaling his career-best when it comes to home runs hit against the O’s in one season, totaling seven. Only Harmon Killebrew and Alex Rodriguez have more than Ortiz’s 52 career homers against Baltimore.
His 35th homer of the season continues an epic home run stretch for Ortiz against the Orioles, with the 40-year-old having now homered in five of his last eight, and 10 of his last 16 games at Camden Yards.
For a complete box score, click here.
The Red Sox improve to a season-best 22 games over .500.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Andrew Benintendi made his presence felt, leading off what would be a three-run fifth inning with a double into the left-center field gap. He would immediately be plated by Dustin Pedroia’s single. Benintendi showed no signs of favoring his injured left knee when rounding the bases.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Besides Jones’ homer, the only negative for Porcello came in the fourth inning, when he hit Manny Machado with two outs. After some jawing as Machado walked down the first base line, Porcello then gave up a run-scoring double off the right field wall to Mark Trumbo. Ironically, television showed Porcello asking Machado why he would want to hit the Orioles’ infielder with Trumbo coming up.