Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Mass
BOSTON — Pregame at Fenway Park Friday night belonged to David Ortiz, whose No. 34 was retired in an emotional ceremony. But once the game began, the night belonged to three of Big Papi’s former teammates as Rick Porcello, Sandy Leon and Hanley Ramirez led the Boston Red Sox to a 9-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of a three-game series.
“It was, to me, vintage Rick Porcello,” Boston manager John Farrell said after his reigning Cy Young Award winner went 6 1/3 innings for his first win his last six starts — thus avoiding becoming the first 10-game loser in the majors. “The sink had returned to his two-seamer and it’s a tribute to the work that he continues to do.”
In other words, he kept the ball down, which allowed him to give up a run on five hits until one out in the seventh. Then, as his pitches rose, three straight extra base hits ended his night.
Leon (3-for-4) drove in a career-high four runs for the fourth time in his career, with a two-run homer and two-run double and Ramirez hit a two-run homer — the 250th home run of his career.
“We got a good team,” Leon said. “I think we were going to just get a win for David today. He deserved that.”
Despite his long winless streak, Porcello has notched nine straight outings of at least six innings. He struck out eight and has 61 strikeouts and 10 walks in 68 2/3 innings over his last 11 starts.
“I felt good,” Porcello said. “Obviously I would have liked to have finished the ballgame off better than I did, but I felt good from the get-go.”
The Red Sox (40-32) scored three runs on one hit off Alex Meyer (3-4) in the first inning, Meyer wild-pitched home two of the runs after Xander Bogaerts’ RBI double — in a 38-pitch first inning.
“It’s unacceptable,” said Meyer, who had thrown six scoreless frames in his previous start. “You can’t go out there and put two guys on before basically the game starts. (I) just put them on first and second (with walks).
“It’s frustrating and there’s not much more to say than that. The first inning was just not acceptable.”
Ramirez hit his 10th homer of the season in the fourth, while Leon connected in the sixth and then doubled home the pair in the eighth.
Martin Maldonado, Cliff Pennington and Kole Calhoun had RBI doubles for the Angels (38-39, 12-12 without the injured Mike Trout) in the seventh.
Eduardo Paredes made his major league debut and Huston Street, activated Thursday, pitched for the first time this season.
With Red Sox greats Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs among those on hand, Ortiz received his usual ovation from the Papi-loving crowd pre-game.
“Walking out there and seeing — there wasn’t an empty seat,” he said later. “It made me feel like one of those important games that we have where the fans want to be there from the very beginning and show some love and support. It was pretty amazing.”
Said Angels manager Mike Scioscia: “I know everyone in our organization has the utmost respect for David and what he did. A lot of his successes, unfortunately, in playoffs were at our expense, but I know everyone respects his career, respects him as a person. That was a terrific honor they did for him tonight and it was fun to watch.”
“It was a special night,” said Dustin Pedroia, who represented the 2017 team with pre-game words for Ortiz. “Obviously he means a lot to us and the city … he played with a lot of guys and he affected them in a major way.”
Pedroia was the final speaker before Ortiz, noting Ortiz was “family.” Ortiz, dabbing tears, then said: “The little guy made me cry.”
NOTES: Veteran RHP Doug Fister, who opted out of a minor league deal with the Angels after three starts, was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox and will start against the Angels in Sunday’s series finale. … Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia, who missed the three games in Kansas City after being struck in the back with a pitch Sunday in Houston, was a late addition to the lineup, with Josh Rutledge nursing a sore hip. … 3B Jhonny Peralta signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox and will report to Pawtucket. … The Angels optioned 1B C.J. Cron to Triple-A and recalled RHP Eduardo Paredes, giving the club an eight-man bullpen. … Red Sox RHP Carson Smith, coming back from Tommy John surgery, will rest this weekend and be re-evaluated on Monday. … RHP J.C. Ramirez pitches for the Angels against LH David Price in Saturday night’s game.