'What we learned': Sox' 11-2 win over the A's
Three Things we learned from the Red Sox' 11-2 win over the Athletics . . .
1) Rick Porcello's control has been impeccable
Porcello did not allow a walk in his seven innings Saturday. That shouldn't be much of a surprise.
He's walked just two hitters in his last five outings, and only seven in his his last dozen starts.
In 186 2/3 innings this season, Porcello has issued just 28 walks and his 5.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in the American League.
"You're looking at someone who's pitching with a lot of confidence," explained John Farrell. "He knows he can go to certain areas of the strikezone to get a strike and he's got an assortment of pitches to get back into counts when he needs to. On the whole, he's been in command of the count against pretty much every hitter that he faces."
So not only is Porcello not giving many free passes, but he's also putting the hitters on the defensive -- which may help explain why he's limited opposing hitters to a .229 batting average this season.
2) The Red Sox are 14-8 since Dustin Pedroia moved to the leadoff spot
And it's not just that they're playing better than .600 ball since that happened. They're also scoring runs by the boat load.
John Farrell made the move when the team wasn't getting the kind of production from the middle of the order. So he took Mookie Betts out of the on-base spot at leadoff and put him in a production spot in the cleanup spot, dropping Hanley Ramirez a notch.
The move has paid off in a big way. Pedroia is hitting a blistering .461 since the switch and Betts, meanwhile, has knocked in 25 runs in the last 20 games.
Pedroia may not profile as the typical leadoff hitter, as he doesn't walk a whole lot. But when he's piling up multi-hit game after multi-hit game and scoring runs with ease, walks don't seem to matter.
3) It's getting crowded behind the plate
The Red Sox already had three catchers after activating Ryan Hanigan the other day. Now, it's about to become four when Christian Vazquez is added to the expanded roster Monday in San Diego.
Hanigan and Vazquez join Bryan Holaday and starter Sandy Leon.
Leon is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver. He's earned that role with a strong game behind the plate and offensive contributions that have come as something of a shock.
Farrell said Saturday that he considers Holaday his second catcher, in part because of the way he's paired with some pitchers and established a rapport. His experience in the American League -- he spent time with Detroit and Texas previous -- surely is a factor.
It will be interesting to see how Vazquez is used. Only a few months ago, the Sox seemed to have anointed his their starting catcher for the present and future. Now, after struggling earlier in the year, he returns as a spare part in September, unsure of how he fits in with a pennant contender.