BOSTON — Rick Porcello, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, goes for something he hasn’t had in 2017 when he faces the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
A winning streak.
The Red Sox right-hander went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) in defeating the Los Angeles Angels on Friday for his first victory in six starts.
That moved him to 4-9 with a 5.00 ERA on the season (he was 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA last year). One of the 2016 wins came against the Twins in Minneapolis on May 6.
On Wednesday night, he faces rookie Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) in the third contest of a four-game series between teams fighting for their division leads.
“It was a little bit better location today than it has been the last couple of starts,” Porcello said after the win over the Angels. “I threw some better breaking balls. I kept guys off-balance. In that regard, it was definitely better, but I’ve got to finish that ballgame off better than I did.”
He was talking about the seventh inning, when three consecutive extra-base hits — after he had gotten the first batter — ended his positive evening with a thud.
Said Boston manager John Farrell of the outing as a whole: “It was, to me, vintage Rick Porcello. The sink had returned to his two-seamer, and it’s a tribute to the work that he continues to do.”
With the victory Tuesday night, the Red Sox moved into first place in the American League East, a game ahead of the New York Yankees.
The Twins, who made three errors that led to five unearned runs Tuesday, arrived in Boston a half-game ahead of the Indians atop the AL Central and fell back into second place by a half-game with a loss Monday. With both Minnesota and Cleveland losing Tuesday, the standings remained the same.
Mejia pitched five scoreless innings as the Twins blanked the Indians 5-0 on Friday night to start a three-game sweep in Cleveland.
“I thought his stuff was good,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think sometimes he tries to get a little fancy, a little cute with his stuff and changes his arm angle when he’s making good pitches over the top.
“Some of the counts, 0-2, 1-2, where he let guys back in, they battled, fouled off some tough pitches, but (it) seemed like he made some of his best pitches when he got to full counts.”
Mejia has yet to face the Red Sox in his young career.
Porcello, 10-9 with a 3.83 ERA lifetime against the Twins, was brilliant and got the kind of support he received last year (more than any starter in the major leagues) in an 11-1 victory at Target Field on May 6. He gave up seven hits and one run, striking out six and without walking a batter.
Brian Dozier is 8-for-37 (.216) against Porcello, but he has three homers and eight RBIs against the right-hander. Kennys Vargas is 5-for-10 while Max Kepler is 1-for-9, Eddie Rosario 2-for-12 and Chris Gimenez 2-for-11.
Because of a long rain delay Tuesday after the second inning, the Twins had to get six innings out of the bullpen.
Regarding his pitching staff for the rest of the series, Molitor said, “We’ve been having trouble getting a lot of innings here as of late. A couple guys have stepped up at times, which has given us a little bit of reprieve. You start thinking about those things during the game and trying to figure out who’s going to be available tomorrow.
“Best case scenario, Mejia has a good day. We’ll find a way to get through it, and hopefully we’ll come back and play a better game.”
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