Interleague play in the San Francisco Bay brought the Boston Red Sox to the AT&T Park for a small two-game series. Albert Suárez was chosen to start his second major league game after brief success as a reliever. He was opposed by Rick Porcello who was shelled in his last starts and back to his usual ERA around 4.00. While there was no David Ortiz in the starting lineup, Hanley Ramírez was given the nod at first base with “Papi” still eligible as a pinch hitter.
The Red Sox lead the majors in doubles and the young Venezuelan, Albert Suárez, soon found out when he was greeted early by back-to-back doubles from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Chris Young. The new signing continues to hit solid line drives to left field and he occasionally flashes some good plays in the outfield when he made a spectacular catch in foul territory.
Rick Porcello, a sinkerball pitcher facing a lineup without Buster Posey in a pitcher friendly park, looked good. Although he still kept the tradition of giving up home runs, this time, Jarrett Parker blasted his changeup in the bottom of the 3rd to put the Giants on the board.
Porcello's tight spot
With a 2-1 lead, Porcello got into trouble during the 4th inning. Three consecutive hits loaded the bases and he didn't help his own cause by walking in a run, thus tying the game. With no outs, the Giants traded another run for a double play after a weak grounder was induced by the AL pitcher. He finally got out of the inning but now without the lead.
One thing to highlight is the great performance by rookie Albert Suárez. He controlled the damage to two runs and really appeared to be in control of a very explosive lineup. He was relieved from his duty in the seventh after a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. With men on the corners and one out, John Farrell decided to pinch hit David Ortiz for Christian Vázquez.
Unconventional, but Papi delivers
The crowd went wild so Bruce Bochy decided to bring Javier López from the bullpen for a lefty against lefty matchup. Ortiz swung at the first pitch to Brandon Crawford who was playing at second base in the shift. Somehow, Chris Young managed to avoid the tag by ducking and thus allowing the tying run to score from third and an RBI to Ortiz.
The Japanese combo of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa shut down the Giants offense in the 8th and 9th. The home team also had artillery in their bullpen as Hunter Strickland and Santiago Casilla were able to nail down the zeros and bring the game to extra innings.
Casilla's woes continue
Backup catcher Sandy León came to face Casilla in the 10th and he surprisingly lined a leadoff double to right field. After that, Casilla ran into trouble. He walked pinch hitter Marco Hernández and then surrendered a bunt single to Mookie Betts to load the bases. Casilla, with 4 blown saves on the season, lost the battle against Xander Bogaerts when the shortstop blooped a single to center field, scoring two runs. Bochy removed Casilla from the game (no argument this time) but the damage was done.
Craig Kimbrel came out to close the game for the Sox. He allowed a baserunner on a single but then he got three easy outs for a routine save. The Red Sox earned a hard-fought victory in the beginning of the series guided by clutch hitting and an effective start from Porcello.
What comes next
Tomorrow hosts an elite pitching duel: David Price - Madison Bumgarner. The towering lefties will face each other in a pivotal game for both teams that are looking to establish themselves as the best of their divisions.