'What we learned': Red Sox' 8-7 win over Twins
BOSTON - Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Minnesota Twins . . .
1) Even when things don’t go his way Rick Porcello is still effective
There have been multiple outings where Rick Porcello hasn’t had his A-game this season -- but he’s still been effective.
And in instances where he’s been on, the numbers have displayed that accordingly.
But Sunday’s 8-7 win was completely different.
Porcello did in fact look good and had both of his breaking balls working -- even though he said they were off in his bullpen before the game.
“I felt like had one of the better slider-curveball combinations I’ve had in a while,” Porcello said
But Porcello was the victim of some crucial mistakes by Brock Holt on two fly balls in right.
Both runners that reached wound up getting extra bases, later scoring in the innings.
Had neither of those happened, Porcello walks away with numbers much more representative of his performance.
But the righty wasn’t concerned about the numbers after the game.
“That’s baseball,” Porcello said. “I mean, over the course of 162 games those sort of things are going to happen and you just keep battling and doing your job.”
When his outing ended after 6.2 innings and 99 pitches, Porcello as visibly frustrated that John Farrell pulled him from the game.
But it wasn’t a tantrum like others have done in the past -- Porcello just though he had more in the tank.
“Obviously wanted to finish the inning off,” Porcello said. “Felt strong and just emotionally wanted to stay out there. But that’s his decision and he wanted to go with somebody else.”
2) Mookie Betts is far more valuable in right than we realized
The biggest concern when Mookie Betts was removed from the lineup and sidelined in Friday’s game was his bat being absent from the lineup.
With good reason given he’s batting .307 with 127 hits, along with 20 homers, 63 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
A frightening leadoff man to say the least.
But his absence in right field has been more of an issue -- especially since Boston has scored 17 runs in two games without him.
Saturday night, Michael Martinez had to deal with gusting winds, but still made some mistakes Betts has yet to make this season.
After Martinez was removed Saturday, Mr. Every Position, Brock Holt, filled in and didn’t do much better.
He struggled tracking the Max Kepler fly-out turned triple in the fourth, who would later score.
Then he dropped a Juan Centeno fly ball that became a double. It was ruled a double because it appeared Holt didn’t get leather on it, but it was a very catchable ball.
That allowed Kennys Vargas to advance to third, and both would score on Byron Buxton’s single.
These are mistakes that can’t be made and easily could have cost Boston the game.
3) Brad Ziegler can rise above calamity
Too often has Boston’s pitching either played down to their opponents level, or struggled to stop the bleeding started by one of their teammates.
Almost every bullpen arm has done that this season -- with the lone exception of the new guy.
Brad Ziegler earned his first save with the Red Sox in Sunday's 8-7 win and has now retired 19 of the 20 batters he’s faced since joining the team.
But Sunday could’ve just as easily gone the other way.
Matt Barnes was off after having a long layoff from his extended appearance. And Junichi Tazawa felt it was necessary to make things interesting through his entire outing, too.
But Ziegler was different. He only needed 12 pitches to get two strikeouts and the save.
“He’s been a Godsend to be honest,” John Farrell said of the interim closer.
Ziegler has made hitters look foolish since joining Boston -- most noticeably with his slider that has righties lunging and flailing.
But he won’t get caught up on that, and he can just as easily see things go south.
“It feels good, but I don’t want to take it for granted because the next time I throw that pitch if I hang it, he may hit it over the Monster,” Ziegler said. “I’m glad they’re not getting good swings, and at the same time that pitch is over and I’ve got to move on to the next one.”