Sox out-savage Yankees in record-setting night
Bogaerts hits 2 HRs, notches 4 RBIs; Porcello limits damage
BOSTON -- It took almost four months on the baseball calendar for the Yankees to finally play a game at Fenway Park this season. The Red Sox had been waiting for it, and when the moment got here, they out-savaged their rivals with a 19-3 thumping in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday night.
Instead of playing the role of gracious hosts, the defending World Series champions jumped all over the Yankees from the outset, belting Masahiro Tanaka around for seven runs in the first, and then five more in the fourth, at which point Yanks manager Aaron Boone finally had no choice but to pull him and go to his recently overworked bullpen.
It was Boone last week who heatedly called his hitters "savages" during a rant at a home-plate umpire that went viral.
Due to the current state of the standings -- the Red Sox trail the Yankees by 10 games in the American League East even after this rout -- it's easy to overlook that Boston can hit with anyone, including the savages.
In fact, in the course of Thursday's game, the Red Sox overtook the Yankees for the Majors lead in runs scored. The 19 runs were the most the Sox have scored in a game against the Yanks. It was also a season high against any opponent. So, too, were Boston's 23 hits. The margin of victory was the highest in any game against New York at Fenway, equaling a 17-1 drubbing on July 15, 2005.
"We've been rolling for a while now offensively," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We feel that we can go toe to toe with whoever, [any] other offenses. We're leading the big leagues in runs scored and for two months we were talking about how inconsistent we were, but we feel good about it."
Xander Bogaerts (two homers, four runs, four RBIs) got the party started by launching a titanic three-run homer to left that soared over the Monster Seats and onto Lansdowne Street.
In terms of both exit velocity (112.1 mph) and projected distance (451 feet), it was the longest homer for Bogaerts since the start of Statcast in 2015. In this breakout year for Bogaerts, he now has 23 homers, equaling the career high he set in '18.
Speaking of breakout years, it was Rafael Devers who got the five-run eruption started in the fourth when he smoked a leadoff shot off a sign beyond the Monster Seats. The opposite-field blast, No. 21 on the season, traveled a projected distance of 437 feet. As Dennis Eckersley said on NESN, it looked like a right-handed-hitting slugger pulling the ball.
"A lot of fun," said leadoff man Mookie Betts, who had two hits, both of them coming in the first inning. "It's one of those things where one hit leads to another and leads to another. It's contagious at that point. Just doing what I can to help. Trying to get on base for Devers and Bogey. Seems like I score every time."
Early on, it looked like the teams might match their wild slugfest from London on June 29, when they each scored six runs in the first inning. And it was the same two starting pitchers in this one -- Rick Porcello against Tanaka.
When Porcello labored through a 47-pitch second inning, it was hard to imagine he would be around much longer. But after getting out of that inning by inducing Aaron Judge into a flyout to deep center rather than a grand slam that would have made it a one-run game, the veteran righty settled down and turned in a quality start.
In fact, this was Porcello's best outing in over a month, as he ended a five-start slump by limiting the Yankees to six hits and three runs over six innings while walking one and striking out five.
"Usually you have one or two innings where your back's against the wall and you've got to make pitches, and I haven't been able to make pitches in those situations [lately]," said Porcello. "I'm continuously missing over the plate, and that's what's been beating me. Today, honestly, the lead we had in the second inning, the way it was building, I felt like we did a good job of limiting the damage. Would have loved to give up no home runs, but when our offense is swinging the bats the way we are, you've just got to control it the best you can."
For the Red Sox -- who are 1 game behind the Athletics in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot -- to get to October, they need to start pitching like they are capable of.
This is why Porcello's in-game turnaround was every bit as important as the impressive eruption by the offense. This made it five straight games a Boston starter has gone six innings or more.
"It starts with those guys on the mound, and this is the fifth one [in a row] that we go six-plus," said Cora. "That's great. Those guys do what they usually do, they're going to put us in a good spot and we know we can score runs."
No matter how it happened, the Sox badly needed to beat the Yanks to start this extended weekend series. Coming in, New York had won six of the first seven head-to-head encounters, five of them in the Bronx and two of them across the pond in London.
This was the latest the Yankees had arrived in Boston since the strike-shortened 1981 season. The Red Sox still have three more games this weekend, then four in New York next weekend and another four-game set at Fenway from Sept. 6-9.
"This next week, two weeks is huge for us," said Porcello. "So to be able to get this win tonight, the way our offense is swinging the bats, it sets us up well for the rest of the series."