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Porcello brilliant as Sox rout Twins

Boston Herald

June 22. 2018 12:48AM

Boston Red Sox starter Rick Porcello throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning of Thursday afternoon's game at Target Field. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS — A great road trip? Maybe not.

But the Red Sox made it at least a good one with a 9-2 win over the Minnesota Twins Thursday, completing their 10-game trip against the Orioles, Mariners and Twins with a 6-4 record.

The offense finally came alive, but their starting rotation is making a statement.

The bats come and go; they’ve scored 50 runs in their last 14 games (3.6 runs per game), and 18 of them have been scored in two games.

The starting pitching has yet to slump. Right now, it’s streaking.

Rick Porcello threw a gem, going seven innings and allowing just one single and one walk.

How’s this for consistency? Sox starters have allowed two earned runs or fewer in 14 of their last 16 games, while the team has gone 9-7 in that span. Over their last 13 games, Red Sox starters have a 2.24 ERA, the best mark in the majors.

Over their last 30 games, they have a 2.90 ERA.

Ever since Drew Pomeranz was replaced by Steven Wright, the rotation is rolling. Porcello, Wright, Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez have a combined 3.17 ERA this year.

“We’ve been throwing the ball well since we reset them (with two extra off-days),” manager Alex Cora said. “They’ve been feeling a little bit fresher. That’s good. The day off Monday helped. We got another one on Monday. They’re good to go.”

Entering the day, Porcello hadn’t been nearly as sharp over his previous eight starts (5.28 ERA, .288 average against, .811 OPS against) as he was in his first seven (2.14 ERA, .193 average against, .494 OPS against). But in his final inning of work against the Mariners last week, Porcello threw eight pitches, all strikes, striking out two.

Cora called it Porcello’s best inning of the season.

He had seven more like it on Thursday as he overpowered a Twins lineup that was without its two best players, Eddie Rosario, who was out with a sore right shoulder, and Eduardo Escobar, who started the game but was hit in the elbow by Porcello and made an early exit.

Porcello said he was able to build off his near-perfect final inning in Seattle.

“I think the overall tempo, my effort level, what I was trying to do with those pitches, I was a lot more relaxed and delivery was smooth and I executed them,” he said. “I tried to carry that tempo and everything over into today.”

The Twins went just 1-for-22 with a single, a walk and five strikeouts against Porcello, who threw 65 strikes on 97 pitches and lowered his season ERA to 3.44.

“He was great,” Cora said. “He’s a guy that, he’ll give you everything he has. The other guys do too. We know how dominant they can be. Rick maximizes his skills and ability and we’re very happy with the way he goes about his business.”

The Sox snapped out of their offensive skid with two runs off Kyle Gibson in six innings, then hammered the Twins bullpen for seven more. Sandy Leon smoked a two-out single to start the scoring in the fourth inning.

In the fifth, Mookie Betts put a hurting on an outside fastball and drove it to the second level in right for an opposite-field homer, his 19th long ball of the season.

With Gibson out of the game, the Sox scored three in the seventh, two crossing home on a Xander Bogaerts double, three in the eighth and another in the ninth.

In the eighth, Andrew Benintendi joined Betts with a deep homer to right field, his 13th of the year.

“I think it was just a couple of tough days,” Betts said. “We came out ready to swing it and it just showed what we can do.”

Hector Velazquez allowed the Twins their only runs in the ninth.

Red Sox/MLB