Since the middle of June, Rick Porcello has been in the habit of alternating good and bad starts each time that he takes the hill. Given that he struggled against the Twins his last time out, if he followed the trend he was going to have a nice outing against the Yankees on Friday.
That he did.
The 29-year-old hurler delivered perhaps his finest start of the season, allowing one run on just one hit over nine masterful innings. The lone blemish on his day was a solo home run off the bat of rookie third baseman Miguel Andujar in the third inning.
The only other Yankees’ batter to reach against him was Brett Gardner, who was hit with an 0-2 pitch to lead off the game, and he was erased on a double play. He retired the final 21 batters that he faced in succession.
Porcello also matched his season-high with nine strikeouts in the contest. It’s the fifth time that he has struck out nine batters in a game this season, one during each month of the season.
What’s really impressive though, it that he required only 86 pitches to complete his gem. That’s the fewest pitches needed in a nine-inning complete game since Corey Kluber threw one on 85 pitches during the 2014 season.
Porcello threw 68 of his 86 pitches for strikes, including first-pitch strikes to 23 out of the 28 batters he faced.
He became the first Red Sox’ hurler to allow zero or one hit in a nine-inning complete game against their hated rival since Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat in September of 1999. That’s the infamous Chili Davis game where Martinez allowed just a solo home run to the veteran slugger and nothing more while striking out a jaw-dropping 17 hitters.
Porcello worked so efficiently in this one, that the game only took 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. That’s the shortest duration of any game between the Yankees and Red Sox since May 16 of 1994.
With the victory, the former American League Cy Young Award winner improves to 14-4 on the season to go along with a 3.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 135/33 K/BB ratio across 140 ⅔ innings in his 23 starts.
For the Red Sox, the win moves them 7 ½ games ahead of the reeling Bombers in the race for the crown in the American League East.
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Oh My, Ohtani!
After an extremely impressive start to the season, Shohei Ohtani has fallen on hard times. He hasn’t made an appearance as a pitcher since June 6 due to elbow issues, and he may not make it back to the hill before the end of the season.
He has also been scuffling at the plate. Entering play on Friday, he had hit just .200 with three homers and a 24/5 K/BB ratio in 65 at-bats since returning from the disabled list.
Friday was a big step in the right direction for getting him back on track.
The two-way star delivered the finest offensive game of his career, leading the Angels to victory over the Indians. Ohtani got the Angels on the board first, crushing a two-run homer off of Indians’ starter Mike Clevinger in the first inning. It was the first home run that Ohtani has hit on the road in his big league career.
He wasn’t finished though. He victimized Clevinger again in his next at-bat, this time for a solo shot in the third inning that tied the score at 3-3. That one was crushed 443 feet to right field. The Halos wouldn’t trail again the rest of the game. It was the first multi-homer game of the 24-year-old’s career.
If a pair of home runs weren’t enough, Ohtani tacked on singles in the eighth and ninth innings, finishing the evening 4-for-5 with three runs scored. He also put his blazing speed on full display, deftly swiping his third base of the season in the eighth inning.
With the career-high four hits, Ohtani raised his season slash to .272/.343/.533 to go along with 11 homers, 28 RBI and three stolen bases.
With the two homers, Ohtani joins Babe Ruth as the only other player since 1900 to have double digit home runs and multiple wins in the same season. Ruth accomplished the feat three times (1918, 1919, 1921).
He also became the first player in the big leagues this season to tally four hits, two homers and a stolen base in the same ballgame.
Verlander Stymies Dodgers
Justin Verlander’s magnificent 2018 campaign continued rolling along on Friday as the right-hander delivered an absolutely dominant performance in a victory over the Dodgers.
The right-hander matched his career-high with 14 strikeouts over 7 ⅔ innings of one-run baseball, allowing just four hits and a walk along the way.
The only blemish on his night came on the very first batter of the game, where Joc Pederson clubbed a solo home run to right field. After that, Verlander took over. He pounded the strike zone, throwing 76 of his 105 pitches for strikes. No other Dodgers’ hitter would advance past first base against him in the ballgame.
The victory was his 11th on the season and the 199th of his career. He also eclipsed the 200-strikeout plateau for the eighth time in his career.
At this point, he looks to be neck and neck with Red Sox’ ace Chris Sale in the race for the American League Cy Young Award. Verlander boasts a 2.19 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 204/28 K/BB ratio across 156 ⅓ innings in his 24 starts.
American League Quick Hits: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees plan to call up Chance Adams to make his major league debut Saturday in Boston… Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday that Jonathan Villar could see some starts at shortstop in addition to playing regularly at second base… Rays placed OF Tommy Pham on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured right foot.. The Rays are hopeful that he’ll be able to return in less than a month… Xander Bogaerts (hand) remained out of the Red Sox lineup on Friday, but should return at some point over the weekend… Mike Trout missed his second straight start with a jammed right wrist. He’s optimistic that he’ll be able to return on Saturday… Delino DeShields was scratched from the Rangers’ lineup on Friday due to a headache… Chris Young has been diagnosed with labral tears in both of his hips and will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2018 season… Yan Gomes was pulled from Friday's contest against the Angels as a precautionary measure due to discomfort in his right knee… Ian Kinsler will be placed on the disabled list on Saturday with a hamstring injury. Tony Renda will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday to take his place… Steve Pearce followed up his three-homer game on Thursday with a solo shot on Saturday as the Red Sox topped the Yankees… Yoan Moncada delivered a go-ahead RBI double in the 10th inning to lead the White Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Rays… Rougned Odor belted a grand slam in a rout of the Orioles… Ryan Borucki earned his first big league win, allowing just an unearned run over eight stellar innings against the Mariners… Blaine Hardy allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings in a no-decision against the Athletics… Ramon Laureano came through with a walk-off RBI single in the 13th inning of his big league debut, leading the A’s to victory over the Tigers… Brett Anderson fired seven scoreless innings in a no-decision there as well…
National League Quick Hits: Friday’s game between the Reds and Nationals was postponed due to rain. It’ll be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Saturday… Dexter Fowler is heading to the disabled list after suffering a fractured left foot on Friday… Jung Ho Kang will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks after having a debridement procedure on his left wrist Friday… Steven Matz landed on the 10-day disabled list with a minor flexor pronator strain in his left arm… Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He’ll miss the remainder of the 2018 season… The Diamondbacks optioned the struggling Chris Owings to Triple-A Reno… Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly gave Kyle Barraclough a vote of confidence, stating that the right-hander will remain the club’s closer… Adam Wainwright (elbow) could begin a rehab assignment with High-A Palm Beach next week… Luke Gregerson will visit Dr. James Andrews next week to get a second opinion on his ailing right shoulder….Tony Cingrani received a cortisone injection in his ailing left shoulder on Friday… Buster Posey was removed from Friday's game against the Diamondbacks after taking a foul tip off of his catcher's mask. He’s being monitored for a possible concussion… Christian Villanueva clubbed his 20th homer in a losing effort against the Cubs… Javier Baez reached three times and blasted his 23rd homer as the Cubs topped the Padres… Jacob deGrom suffered another tough-luck loss, striking out nine over eight innings of two-run ball over eight innings. He also drove in the Mets’ lone run on the other side of the ball… Anibal Sanchez racked up a season-high nine strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball in a win over the Mets. He now boasts a 2.89 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 84 innings on the year… Vince Velasquez fanned seven over 6 ⅓ shutout innings in a win over the Marlins… Matt Carpenter slugged another leadoff homer in a loss to the Pirates… Chris Archer was knocked around for five runs (four earned) on seven hits and four walks in only 4 ⅓ innings… Eric Thames clubbed a walk-off three-run homer off of Rockies’ closer Wade Davis to lead the Brewers to victory… Paul Goldschmidt crushed his 24th homer in a win over the Giants.