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Porcello steady, Boston bats relentless in win

May 29, 2018

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are surging again, and doing it with balance.With all nine starters producing at least one hit and Rick Porcello turning in a strong performance from the mound, Boston rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Fenway Park."Obviously, we're kind

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are surging again, and doing it with balance.
With all nine starters producing at least one hit and Rick Porcello turning in a strong performance from the mound, Boston rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
"Obviously, we're kind of getting it rolling early. Everybody's contributing," said first baseman Mitch Moreland. "I think I looked up in the fourth or fifth inning and we had nine hits and it was one by everybody in the lineup. That tells you right there that everyone is going up there, contributing, and putting together good at-bats."
Sandy Leon led the charge with two doubles and a two-run homer, an insurance shot into the bullpen in right-center in the eighth that closer Craig Kimbrel smoothly snatched while in the middle of his warm-ups.

The smash by Leon opened Boston's lead to five runs, which was comforting when the Blue Jays loaded the bases in the ninth. Kimbrel came on to get the final two outs, picking up his 17th save.
It was the eighth win in the last 10 games for manager Alex Cora's team and Boston's 10th in its last 13. The Red Sox improved their Major League-best record to 38-17.
"Yeah, it's been fun, it's been good and our record shows it," said Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez. "It speaks for itself, really. We're just being us, really. I don't know what to say. You're going to have your ups and your downs -- that's baseball."

Xander Bogaerts chipped in with two runs and two hits, including a towering solo shot over the Green Monster that made it 6-3 in the seventh. Martinez belted a pair of doubles. Dustin Pedroia had his first hit of the season, a single to right on a well-executed hit-and-run in the sixth.

"Well, we're playing better," said Cora. "Defensively, much cleaner. Running the bases lot better. We're putting pressure on the opposition. They are putting up good at-bats and everybody is doing their part. That is the most important thing. For how much we rely on the home run, you can see we can do other stuff. The runs can score running the bases and putting the ball in play."
Porcello (7-2, 3.65 ERA) set the tone early, allowing just one run over the first six innings. Overall, the sinkerballer held the Jays to five hits and two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. It was an encouraging outing for Porcello, who had taken it deep in his previous four starts after a red-hot start to the season.
Kelly K's Pillar in big spot: When Porcello was in his first bit of trouble, Joe Kelly came out of the bullpen in the seventh and struck out Kevin Pillar on three pitches to end the threat and strand two runners. The righty went with a 98.7-mph heater, followed by an 83.8-mph curve and then baffled Pillar on an 86.6-mph changeup. Cora didn't hesitate to bring Kelly in for that at-bat, even though Pillar had been 8-for-18 against the righty lifetime.

"This is a different Joe Kelly," said Cora. "We can throw the numbers out of the window. This is a lot different. Slider. Curveball. Changeup. Fastball up. I really don't go by the matchup with the numbers. I just go by the matchup with the stuff, and right now, his stuff is way up there. If we're talking about relievers, he's way up there. His stuff is up there. He's one of the best."
Kelly has an 0.35 ERA in the 24 games he's pitched since he got roughed up on Opening Day.
"I feel good, not just with the mix, but I just feel good mechanically, so that ends up leading to being able to throw offspeed pitches for strikes," Kelly said. "I'm just trying to not let hitters sit on the 'predictability fastball' as much as I can and work from there."
For the third time in club history, the Red Sox have won at least 38 of their first 55 games. Boston also accomplished the feat in 1946 (42-13) and 2002 (38-17).
It's not very often you see a 61-foot double. But that's what happened in the bottom of the sixth, when Leon hit a soft grounder that Blue Jays pitcher Joe Biagini got a glove on but couldn't hold onto. The ball deflected toward second baseman Devon Travis, who tumbled over trying to make the play. Leon alertly hustled to second for an RBI double, knowing that nobody was covering second base. The double had a hit probability of just seven percent.

"I saw nobody at second base so I just kept running," said Leon. "I was just trying to put the ball in play. [Pedroia] was running, man on third, I was just trying to hit the ball on the ground, and thank God, it went through and that was a double."
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez closes out a six-game homestand when he pitches the finale of a three-game series against the Blue Jays at 1:10 p.m. ET, in a game available on MLB Network outside of the Boston area. Rodriguez has given up three earned runs or fewer in his last four starts. Lifetime against Toronto, he is 2-3 with a 5.44 ERA. Righty Sam Gaviglio will start for the Blue Jays.

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