Major League Baseball

Red Sox host Angels as playoff race tightens

ANGELS (56-61) AT RED SOX (62-56)
4:05 p.m. ET; NESN, FS-W, MLB.TV

Consecutive wins for the first time in two weeks is a start for the Boston Red Sox as they look to return to playoff relevance.

The next step is putting themselves in position for a sweep as they host the Los Angeles Angels in the third contest of a four-game series Saturday afternoon.

After a 3-0 win in Thursday’s opener, Boston bludgeoned the visitors in a 16-4 rout Friday night.

“Yesterday was a great day,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday, referring to Chris Sale’s 13-strikeout, two-hit performance Thursday. “You felt the energy today the whole day. That’s how it starts.”

Right-hander Rick Porcello, who is used to Friday’s level of run support this season, will take the mound for the Red Sox opposite Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney (1-3, 5.09 ERA) in Heaney’s return from the injured list (left shoulder inflammation).

Porcello (10-8) has received a major-league-leading 7.3 runs per start on average from the offense, though his 5.54 ERA ranks second worst among all qualified starters. He ended a personal rut his last time out when he held the Kansas City Royals to one run on four hits over six innings.

Prior to then, Porcello had given up six runs four times in a stretch of six starts. The Angels have given him fits in his career as he’s 7-7 with a 5.56 ERA in 18 starts against the club.

However, Los Angeles has lost eight straight after allowing a season-high-tying 16 runs Friday night. J.D. Martinez led the way for the Red Sox with two home runs and two doubles to go with four RBIs and four runs scored.

“He understands his craft, he works at it. He’s unstoppable,” said Cora of Martinez, who is on an eight-game hitting streak, including five straight multi-hit games. “From the first pitch to the last pitch, he gives his best, and whatever happens, happens.”

On top of their skid, the Angels have failed to score more than four runs in each of their eight consecutive losses. After Albert Pujols hit a three-run home run in the first inning Friday, the offense was held to one hit by five Boston pitchers the rest of the way.

“It’s an embarrassing loss, quite frankly,” Angels skipper Brad Ausmus said. “We didn’t pitch. We didn’t hit, other than Albert’s homer in the first. We really haven’t done much of either the past week. That’s what happens when you have losing streaks, when you’re not hitting or pitching.

“It’s not lack of effort. Guys care. They are doing their work every day. They are just not performing. Anyone who puts a uniform on is to blame, including the coaching staff and myself.”

Heaney will make his first start since July 16 after spending three weeks on the injured list. In that outing, Heaney gave up two runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings against the Houston Astros.

Heaney has faced the Red Sox twice, going 1-0 with a 6.97 ERA. He gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings in their most recent meeting last year.

-Field Level Media

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