Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell isn’t so much interested in what is in his team’s rear-view mirror as opposed to what is outside its windshield. Fresh off seeing Boston secure a playoff spot, Farrell and the Red Sox look to inch closer to the American League East title on Friday when they open a three-game interleague series against the host Cincinnati Reds.
“Just getting into the playoffs is not our goal,” Farrell said. “Certainly it’s a steppingstone toward other things that we have our sights set on, as many teams do. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.” Boston collected a pair of 11-inning victories and capped a three-game sweep of Baltimore with a 9-0 rout on Wednesday, improving to 11-3 in its last 14 to remain three games ahead of the second-place New York Yankees. NL Central cellar-dwelling Cincinnati hasn’t entertained postseason aspirations in quite some time and is playing like it, having yielded 25 runs in its three-game sweep at the hands of St. Louis. Rookie outfielder Jesse Winker crossed the plate twice in the Reds’ 8-5 setback on Thursday and has scored six runs during his five-game hitting streak.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (10-17, 4.46 ERA) vs. Reds RH Sal Romano (5-6, 4.07)
Porcello answered his recent 1-3 stretch with a sterling outing on Saturday, allowing an unearned run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner has kept the ball in the park in each of his last two outings after surrendering three homers in his previous tilt and 35 overall this season. Porcello has limited experience against the current roster of the Reds, with Joey Votto going 3-for-3 with a homer.
Romano improved to 3-1 in his last six outings on Saturday after scattering five hits and striking out six in a career-high eight scoreless innings of a 2-1 victory versus Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old rookie settled down after a 38-pitch first inning to subdue the Pirates. “I felt like I got into a good rhythm,” Romano said. “Good fastball command. I through my curveball for strikes. Changeup has been good for me.”
1. Boston LF Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in nearby Madeira, Ohio, has 18 hits, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored in his last 11 games.
2. Votto has hit safely in three straight contests and nine of his last 10.
3. Farrell could receive a closer look at his son, RHP Luke Farrell, who has made four relief appearances for the Reds since being called up from the minors.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Reds 1