Sox's first pinch HR of year lifts strong Porcello

August 15th, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- was spinning a gem on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park and had plenty left in the tank. Under typical circumstances, he was coming back out for the eighth.

But with the game being played under National League rules, Red Sox manager Alex Cora did the conventional thing, calling on to pinch-hit for the righty starter with one out in the top of the eighth.

And Holt did something that is not conventional for him, absolutely unloading for a solo homer against Phillies righty Tommy Hunter that snapped a tie and sent the Red Sox on their way to a 2-1 victory.

"Pinch-hitting's a tough job to do," said Holt. "You know when your name's called, you just try to be ready. Got a good pitch and was able to put a good swing on it. It's good to get that run there and get Rick the win for how well he pitched."

Thanks to Cora's decision paying off, Porcello (15-5, 4.04 ERA) was able to earn a well-deserved win, allowing two hits and a run over seven innings while walking none and striking out a season-high 10 batters.

"I don't know if it was going to be easy [to send Porcello back out for the eighth]," said Cora. "But if we're in the American League, Brock doesn't pinch-hit. We'll take it that way."

And so it goes for the Red Sox. In this season of winning in just about every way possible, Holt added another unique twist by belting just his 16th career homer in 1,704 at-bats, and second as a pinch-hitter. It was the first pinch-hit homer by the Red Sox this season.

"I just swing," said Holt. "I don't try to hit singles or doubles or homers or whatever. I just swing and try to hit the ball and wherever it goes it goes. I'm thankful that it went out and I was able to score and get us on the board there."

Holt practically came out of his shoes on the first pitch he saw from Hunter -- a 94.1-mph cutter -- and smashed it off the facade of the second deck in right field at an exit velocity of 105.1-mph and a projected distance of 424 feet, according to Statcast™.

"Coming off the bench, he's going to swing at the first pitch," said Hunter. "I probably should have buried it. If you do that, he swings and it probably hits him. But he got it."

With their latest triumph, the 86-35 Sox have won 30 out of 36, 15 out of 17 and 11 out of 12.

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"Yeah, and I didn't know we were on that streak until you said it," Holt said. "I think that kind of answers your question. I think the guys in here don't pay attention to things like that. We come to the field expecting win. … We're a confident team and ... we've been able to do that more times than not. We got a special group in here and … everyone's pulling on the same rope and it's a lot of fun to be a part of."

Porcello handled the first 12 batters he faced in routine fashion, but swiftly ended his attempt at a perfect game when he belted a solo homer to left-center to lead off the fifth. The blast by Hoskins tied the game and off-set the solo shot that hit in the third inning for Boston.

It stayed that way until Holt seized his opportunity in the eighth.

For Porcello, it was his second magnificent performance in his last three starts. On Aug. 3, he fired an 86-pitch, complete-game, one-hitter against the Yankees. Sandwiched in between the two starts was a clunker at Toronto last week.

"Just pitched a lot better," Porcello said. "You saw both games. I was throwing pitches right down the middle and walking guys in Toronto. Today for the most part I was able to stay out of the middle of the plate, not give up any free passes."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Leon pins it down for Kimbrel: The Phillies had the tying run on second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. When Kimbrel struck out on a knuckle curve that dove into the dirt, Leon blocked the ball as well as he could but it still got away. The catcher chased it down and fired to first, narrowly getting Cabrera to end the game, allowing Kimbrel to pick up his 36th save.

"That was close," said Leon. "That ball almost went through my legs. Somehow, anyhow, you have to make that play."

SOUND SMART

This is the first time Red Sox starting pitchers have recorded 10-plus strikeouts and zero walks in consecutive team games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ace Chris Sale had 12 K's and no walks on Sunday in Baltimore.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

What is with Porcello and his suddenly potent bat? For his second straight start in an NL park, Porcello cracked a double. The last one cleared the bases against Nationals ace Max Scherzer. This one was well-struck, and over the head of right fielder , in the top of the third against . Porcello motored around first and went into second with an awkward head-first dive.

"I don't know how everyone sees the ball come in so well," said Porcello. "I was running and couldn't see anything. It was blurry. I figured the throw was coming in so I better slide. That was it. I saw the replay of it. It didn't look very good. It was more of a crawl into second. I'm not going to dare to rate it. It was pretty bad."

HE SAID IT

"It was bad, it was really bad. When I saw him just kind of like stopping and jumping, I was like, 'Oh God,' but, I mean, they played probably other positions when they were growing up, so he's a good athlete." -- Cora, on Porcello's dive into second

UP NEXT

Righty (5-4, 3.74 ERA) will try to rediscover the form he had in his first two starts for the Red Sox after getting shelled (2 2/3 innings, 10 hits, eight runs) last time out at Camden Yards. In Eovaldi's first two starts for Boston, he was unscored on over 15 innings. Eovaldi is 3-4 with a 3.51 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies, who counter with righty Vince Velasquez (8-9, 3.98 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.