'What we learned': Red Sox' 12-5 win over Rangers
Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 12-5 win over the Texas Rangers
1) Brock Holt makes a difference
Brock Holt has been back on the active roster for four games. In the three games in which he started, the Sox are 3-0. In the one game he didn't, the Red Sox lost.
Then again, that sort of pattern existed before Holt was concussed and missed more than a month.
This season, the Sox are 24-9 in games in which Holt starts and 21-28 when he doesn't.
Obviously, those kind of statistics can be misleading. It might suggest that the entire Red Sox lineup does better against righthanded pitching (remember, they're just 5-11 in games when facing a lefty starter).
And it's a relatively small sample size. Holt, of course, was pretty much an everyday player last year and that didn't stop the Sox from being a last-place team.
But there's also something to the stat, too. Holt brings energy and perhaps some other intangibles that don't always get reflected on a stat sheet.
"Usually he's involved in a play that's meaningful,'' noted Farrell. "He's a smart player, an exceptional baserunner, a very good defender and he's had the ability to have the knack for a timely hit.''
2) The Sox have done a nice job turning the page from Saturday night
The Red Sox were, by their manager's own estimation, embarrassed by their play Saturday, when they lost 21-1 to a lowly Angels team.
Those kinds of games aren't exactly unprecedented. They tend to happen once or twice a season and don't always signify much. The Cleveland Indians, for instance, had won 14 games in a row before seeing that winning streak stopped last week in a 17-1 defeat. And no one would suggest that the Indians aren't a quality team with a deep pitching staff.
But the way the Sox have responded says something about them. The players spoke in the clubhouse Saturday about the importance of turning the page and putting the lopsided loss behind them as quickly as possible.
And they've done just that, mostly by breaking out the bats. They pounded out 37 hits and scored 22 runs in the last two games.
In the last two games, the Red Sox have looked more like the fearsome offensive team they showed themselves to be in April and May when, more often than not, they overcame suspect pitching performances and slugged teams into submission.
3) Rick Porcello may not be dominant, but he is competitive
Porcello doesn't overpower hitters. He gives up a lot of contact, and thus, gives up a lot of baserunners.
On Monday, in the first inning, he gave up five hits and four runs to dig a hole for himself and his team.
But knowing that the Sox needed length -- they were into the bullpen in the fifth in the Saturday debacle and the sixth on Sunday -- Porcello dug in and followed up the rocky first with five more scoreless innings to get the team through six.
He needed 34 pitches to get through the first, but average just under 14 pitches per inning thereafter. That improved efficiency saved the Sox from getting into their bullpen earlier than they would have preferred.
That means Porcello has gone 25 straight starts -- nearly a season's worth -- in which he's pitched at least five innings.
That won't win anyone a Cy Young, but it will keep a club in nearly every ballgame. In 17 starts this season, Porcello has only allowed more than four earned runs once. And he's only allowed more than three earned runs five times.
With an offense like the one the Red Sox boast, that means the Sox have a pretty good chance to win when Porcello is on the mound. And indeed, that's why he has 10 wins why the Sox are 12-5 in the 17 games he's started.