While Mookie Betts returned from his bout with the bug that has ravaged the Red Sox in the early going this year, Jackie Bradley Jr. was replaced by Steve Selsky. The starting centerfielder crumpled to the ground after rounding first yesterday, and went for an MRI today. JBJ will return to Boston for a full examination after the MRI revealed inflammation outside of the outfielder’s right knee capsule.
The Red Sox were also without Xander Bogaerts (bereavement) and Hanley Ramirez (flu). However, Matt Barnes returned from the bereavement list with Noe Ramirez being sent back down as the counter move. The depleted Red Sox faced left-hander Daniel Norris and countered with reigning Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.
After Nick Castellanos hit a one-out single, Miguel Cabrera got his first hit of the season with a ground ball through the right side of the infield. Porcello then struck out designated hitter Victor Martinez for the righty’s 1,000th career strikeout. However, Justin Upton ripped a two-out single up the middle to score Castellanos and give the Tigers the 1-0 lead. A fly ball from Ty Collins brought Mookie Betts to the warning track and the right fielder made the grab to end the first inning.
After Mitch Moreland worked a leadoff walk and Selsky struck out, Sandy Leon drove a ball to deep left centerfield for an automatic double. However, Moreland was cut down at the plate when Pablo Sandoval hit a groundball to Castellanos at third base. With men on the corners, Marco Hernandez scorched a ball to left field for an RBI single to even the score at 1-1. The top of the second ended when Pedroia ground into a force out to third base.
Porcello walked catcher Alex Avila to begin the bottom of the second and he was erased on a potential double-play ball from Austin Romine. The twin killing was not to be, however, as Porcello overran the bag and the perfect throw to first from shortstop Marco Hernandez sailed past the bag, allowing Romine to advance to second base. Romine advanced to third on a Jose Iglesias grounder to third, then scored on a flare to shallow center field from Ian Kinsler, bringing the score to 2-1.
Young worked a two-out walk and was chased home by an opposite field double by Mitch Moreland, bringing the score to 2-2 in the top of the third. Selsky then ground out to second base to end the frame.
A leadoff double by Austin Romine in the bottom of the fourth was followed by a Jose Iglesias flyout. Kinsler then hit a line drive to left-center, scoring Romine and bringing the score to 3-2. Porcello was then able to retire Castellanos on a fly ball to center and Cabrera by way of the K.
In the seventh inning, Norris was chased from the game after an infield hit by Marco Hernandez. The lefty tossed 6 ⅓ innings, allowing six hits and three walks. Norris was aided by six strikeouts, a double play, and a pick off at first base.
An apparent double-play ball hit by Pedroia off of reliever Justin Wilson was overturned on replay review because Kinsler was not on the bag when he received the throw from Iglesias, leaving Hernandez on second base. Benintendi then tied the game (3-3) with a line drive to left field, but he was thrown out at second base to end the inning. The run was Norris’s third run allowed.
Porcello came out to pitch the seventh inning and the Tigers retook the lead on a leadoff Castellanos home run. After an infield single by Cabrera, Porcello was lifted in favor of Matt Barnes. This was the former Cy Young winner’s 20th straight game going at least six innings. He threw six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on 11 hits and one walk while striking out eight.
Barnes struck out Martinez, and then Cabrera was caught stealing by Leon for the second out of the inning. Upton followed that up with an inning-ending grounder to Pablo Sandoval.
Righty Bruce Rondon replaced Wilson and allowed a leadoff walk by Betts. Young then singled to left field and both Betts and Young advanced to place men in scoring positions on a horrid throw from Upton. Moreland was then given an intentional walk, and Kyle Ryan was brought in to face pinch hitter Brock Holt.
With the bases loaded, Holt drew an RBI walk, tying the game at four. Then Leon hit a two-run single up the middle to give the Red Sox a 6-4 advantage. With men on the corners and still no outs, Sandoval grounded into a run-scoring double play. After a Hernandez single, Pedroia grounded out to third base to end the inning with the score at 7-4 Red Sox.
Barnes retired Ty Collins on a grounder to second base then allowed an Alex Avila double down the left field line to begin the eighth inning. The righty was able to strike out both Romine and Iglesias to put an end to the Tigers’ threat.
After Anibal Sanchez retired the Red Sox in order, Craig Kimbrel came on for his second save attempt of the season. The Red Sox closer walked both Kinsler and Castellanos, bringing up Miguel Cabrera. Kimbrel pounded the zone with three 99-mph fastballs and struck out the slugger. Victor Martinez then lined a ball into right field, scoring a run and putting men on the corners. With the score at 7-5, Kimbrel was able to strike out Upton and Collins to end the game.