BOSTON — The Toronto Blue Jays‘ Ryan Borucki has looked good in his three major league starts, two of them against the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
Friday night, the young lefty, still looking for his first big league win despite a 2.25 ERA, steps right back into the fire when he faces the sizzling Boston Red Sox and Rick Porcello in Friday night’s second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox (66-29) won their season-high 10th straight game and also set the major league record for most victories prior to an All-Star break Thursday night.
They maintained their 3 1/2-game lead over the Yankees atop the American League East, and the Red Sox are 37 games over .500 for the first time since 1946.
And now they send an 11-game winner to the mound to face a 24-year-old rookie in his fourth major league start.
Borucki, who lost at Houston and then had no-decisions at home against the Detroit Tigers and Yankees, has struck out 16 and allowed just five earned runs in his three outings.
“He’s hung in there,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said after the third start. “He’s thrown two games seven innings, one game six innings. Pretty impressive.”
As far as sending his young pitcher out against the Red Sox, Gibbons said, “It’s good to throw guys into the fire, especially if you think they’re pretty good and he’s a big part of the future here, yeah, I don’t see anything wrong with that.
“It’s a pretty good feat. It won’t surprise me one bit if he goes out there and does a heck of a job again. The kid has got a lot of poise, but the main thing is you know he can pitch, he knows how to pitch.”
Boston’s Mookie Betts capped a 13-pitch at-bat with a grand slam and drove in five runs in Thursday night’s 6-4 win. David Price earned his 10th win and Craig Kimbrel recorded his 29th save.
“Obviously everybody was excited (after the slam),” said Betts. “It was a big moment in the game that kind of swung everything around. It was definitely fun.
“Since I’ve been in the big leagues, that’s probably the most excited I’ve been.”
As far as the length of the at-bat, he said, “I think by pitch seven or eight I looked up and I said to myself, ‘You’ve done good getting him out of the game here. If he goes one more and we get to the bullpen in the (fifth) we’ve still got a good chance to score two.’ That wasn’t just the end, though.”
Price said, “(Betts has) done a great job for us for sure — J.D. (Martinez) as well. I think we have two of the top three guys in the MVP voting right now on our team. That’s huge.”
Porcello (11-3, 3.58 ERA) is seeking to become the Red Sox’s first 12-game winner. He is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays this season and 10-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) lifetime against Toronto.
He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his last eight starts, going 5-1 with a 3.38 ERA over that span.
Curtis Granderson, one of many Jays in the middle of trade reports, is 6-for-20 (.300) against Porcello, but Teoscar Hernandez is 1-for-8 (.125), Russell Martin 5-for-34 (.147) with a home run, Kendrys Morales 9-for-41 (.220) with two homers, Kevin Pillar 10-for-38 (.238) and Devon Travis (.238).
Steve Pearce, playing his first game against Toronto since the Jays traded him to Boston, was nailed on the shin by a pitch from J.A. Happ in the first inning Thursday and left the game in the third. X-rays were negative and he has a contusion.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before the game that Price would open the “second half,” followed by a starter to be determined, then Chris Sale, Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez.