This was a sneaky really, really good win for the Red Sox

Rob Bradford
May 23, 2019 - 1:30 am

TORONTO -- The long hours had drifted into the next day with Alex Cora and his players just wanting to get back to the hotel as fast as possible. It was hard to blame them. 

Not only were the Red Sox staring at another tilt with the Blue Jays 12 hours down the road, but there was the task of using whatever moments were available to organize their exit from Canada while sneaking in a few hours of sleep. It was the slap in the face that these major league schedules will give the participants every now and again.

But it should be noted that the 6-5, 13-inning win over the Blue Jays wasn't just a necessary evil. This should be remembered as a significant -- and welcome -- step forward for these Red Sox.

"We got the W and we move on," Cora said. "Come here tomorrow and try to win three of four and go to Houston. Rick (Porcello) was outstanding. We felt we had everything lined up going into seven, eight, nine. It didn’t work out but guys kept fighting, put up good swings, some bad swings, some good pitches, bad pitches but in the end what matters is we finished on top and ended up winning the game."

Cora was right. There was some bad within the good. That could be mostly found in the leads surrendered after Porcello exited, with relievers Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Marcus Walden following the Sox starter by each allowing a run. In Walden's case, it was a game-tying, pinch-hit double with two outs in the ninth by light-hitting Danny Jansen.

And while Heath Hembree would ultimately finish things off to earn the win, he was also a victim of the Blue Jays' late-inning heroics, giving up a two-out homer to Rowdy Tellez after Mookie Betts had given the visitors a lead with his own home run in the 12th.

But through all the relief-pitching uneasiness the manner in which the Red Sox managed to win for the 15th time in their last 21 games should have offered more encouragement than discouragement. For that they can thank Porcello, Rafael Devers, Betts and Michael Chavis.

PORCELLO

The reality of the righty has been pushed to the backburner the last two starts because of relief-pitching failures, but what Porcello is doing should be noted.

The Sox starter managed another stellar six innings, this time only giving up a solo homer to Vlad Guerrero Jr. Over his last seven starts, he has posted a 2.78 ERA, having gone at least six innings in each of the outings.

"We’ve been fighting all year. This is a big win for us," he said. "We have a chance to win the series tomorrow. That’s what we need to do. We have to play every single night. Every game we play we have to play to win. Talent and those things aren’t going to put us ahead of the opponent. We have to really go out there and earn it and we definitely did that tonight. It was a hard-fought win. It was a great win for us."

DEVERS

Want to know how far the third baseman has come? Soak in this poll that we put up after Devers hit his third homer in as many days.

(The results sat at 50-50 by the time the Red Sox were heading out of Rogers Centre.)

While each fan base is clearly dug in on their respective side of the debate, the fact that Devers is now being viewed in somewhat the same light as one of baseball's saviors says something.

Devers has been playing a much-improved third base while pounding the ball throughout this month. Over his last 32 games he is hitting .344 with six homers and 25 RBI. The homer this time around extended the Sox' lead in the eighth, allowing for what ultimately would be some much-needed extra offense.

BETTS

Prior to the 12th inning, when Betts gave the lead with a rocket over the left field fence, the most notable maneuver made by the reigning American League MVP was coming in as a fifth infielder with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning. (That ultimately resulted in a strikeout by Freddy Galvis, helping Marcus Walden escape the jam.)

But Betts did hit that home run, his eighth of the season, reminding us that there is a reason he is viewed as one of the most dynamic players in the game. Because before that we had been left with a bunch of walks, specifically three of them this time around. He had already come into Wednesday with 32 free passes, fifth in the American League.

"It’s been OK," said Betts of his swing, heading into Thursday with a .290 batting average and .892 OPS. "It’s in and out. It’s kind of the battle of the season. It’s just one of those things where I’m working on it every day."

CHAVIS

If there was going to be one designated hero, it would be the rookie. 

His 10th homer of the season ultimately proved to be the game-winner, quickly helping put Tellez's gut-punch in the past. And through it all, Chavis found himself with yet another teachable moment, the likes of which seem to be piling up during his relatively short stint in the majors.

"That’s huge for me honestly, something I had to learn when I was I think in Greenville," he said when asked about putting the an 0-for-3 Tuesday night, and four hitless at-bats Wednesday in the past. "I would let each day affect my next day, and if went 0-fer the day before I would try to make up for it and go 5-for-5 the next day which is just unrealistic. I haven’t told you all, with my note, I try and separate each at-bat, and I think that puts me in a good position mentally where I can just stay focused on the task at hand instead of looking at this huge picture that gets a little tough to handle."

It's the kind of realizations that continue to suggest Chavis has the right mindset to make this work for the long haul.

"I wouldn’t say I’m surprised," he said when asked about his big league success. "When I originally got the call I knew I was ready and I felt prepared for it, so it wasn’t anything where I thought was going to immediately fail and was going to be overmatched."

Xander Bogaerts notched three singles, marking his fourth three-hit effort of the season. He has hit .395 with two doubles and a home run over his last 11 games.

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