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Porcello silences M's after 1st, then Sox erupt 

Batterymate Leon slugs three-run homer in eight-run 3rd
May 11, 2019

BOSTON -- Saturday didn’t start well for Rick Porcello, but it couldn’t have ended any better. There were two reasons for this in what wound up a 9-5 victory at Fenway Park for the surging Red Sox (10 wins in last 12 games) over the slumping Mariners. • Box score

BOSTON -- Saturday didn’t start well for Rick Porcello, but it couldn’t have ended any better.

There were two reasons for this in what wound up a 9-5 victory at Fenway Park for the surging Red Sox (10 wins in last 12 games) over the slumping Mariners.

Box score

The first would be Boston’s offense, and the utter dominance it displayed in an eight-run third inning.

The second is that Porcello righted himself in every way for the rest of the day.

The turnaround was dramatic when you consider that Jay Bruce, the sixth batter of the game, belted a two-run homer that pinned Porcello in a 4-0 hole before the Red Sox had even taken their first swing of the game.

Forget about not giving up another run. Porcello didn’t so much give up another hit. After the Bruce homer, Porcello had a 19-batter span in which the only batter to reach base was on an error.

Though the final stat line (6 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's) isn’t one that will stick out in Porcello’s game log when the season is over, this is one the veteran will remember fondly.

“These are the toughest games. When you come out, they’re swinging the bat well on you, they’re putting a lot of pressure early,” said Porcello. “And you’ve got to do something to make an adjustment to stay out there and keep us in the game especially after four in the first. Even with that score it can be over after the first, so to be able to settle down and give us a chance to win, I take a lot of pride in that.”

Porcello didn’t cite any major adjustments, other than throwing his pitches on the corners instead of over the middle of the plate.

“Made my pitches,” Porcello said. “Guys did a great job swinging the bats and get us back in the ballgame. I dug us a hole early, Sandy [Leon] kept me on track with the game plan. He swung the bat well, it was a great win for us, especially for how I started out. I was able to settle down after that but the way they swung the bats, took control of the game, that was huge, that was awesome."

Offensive outburst
Other than a Mitch Moreland solo shot in the second, the Red Sox didn’t look all that comfortable against starter Felix Hernandez the first trip through the lineup.

But everything changed the second time through when the Red Sox had a monster third inning for the second straight Saturday.

This one -- which came against Hernandez and Roenis Elias -- featured nine straight batters reaching base.

Earlier in the season, the Red Sox pressed when they were down early in the game. Not anymore.

Xander Bogaerts opened the scoring with an RBI single. Up stepped Rafael Devers, who unloaded for a game-tying, two-run single to center that had an exit velocity of 112.7 mph.

“We stayed up the middle,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “J.D. [Martinez] goes the other way. Raffy [Devers] stays in the big part of the field. We did a good job staying with him. Felix, he’s a different pitcher now. We stayed within the strike zone and we took our walks, we took our hits, we ran the bases pretty well, too.”

Elias then came on to relieve Hernandez, but that didn’t stop the problems for the Mariners.

Jackie Bradley Jr., who has spent the early weeks of the season mired in a slump, gave the Red Sox the lead with a two-run single up the middle. After a 1-for-4 day, Bradley is at .149 for the season with no homers and seven RBIs. But he has been known to follow his coldest streaks with his hottest. The Red Sox remain confident that streak is still in there from their center fielder.

“You can see him trending in the right direction,” Cora said. “He’s trying to slow down some moves with his load and he’s been able to do that and you can see that, he’s quieter with his body, too. The last few days have been good for him, staying up the middle, going the other way, walking. When the bottom of the lineup starts doing the things they’re capable of doing we become a very dangerous team.”

The light-hitting Leon capped the damage with a three-run homer over the Green Monster, his first of the season.

Nobody was happier to see Leon get a big hit than Porcello.

The return of Leon, who was designated for assignment to start the season and then outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, continues to have a big impact on both Porcello and ace Chris Sale. In the five starts since Leon came back, Porcello is 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA. In the three prior to that, he was 0-3 with an 11.12 ERA.

“Like I said, I couldn’t do it without Sandy back there and the rest of the guys, the way they swung the bats,” Porcello said. “I liked this start today, it was kind of a personality start [to the game], for all of us.”

The eruption came on the one-week anniversary of the Red Sox scoring a nine-spot in the third inning in Chicago against the White Sox. In that one, Boston had 10 straight hits against righty Manny Banuelos.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.