BOSTON — If we told you Rick Porcello pitched another gem at Fenway Park on Wednesday, allowing just one run on four hits over eight innings, you wouldn’t be very surprised.
But what if we told you he lost?
That’d be quite the shocker, as the Red Sox right-hander entered his start against the Baltimore Orioles with a perfect 13-0 record at home in 2016. Porcello also has gotten the most run support in Major League Baseball among qualified pitchers at 6.7 runs per game.
But all of those stats went out the window when Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo sent Porcello’s second-inning offering onto Lansdowne Street, giving Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman all the support he needed in a 1-0 Boston loss.
It was a tough break for Porcello, who arguably pitched his best game of the season. He allowed just four baserunners all night, striking out six and walking no one, and retired 17 batters in a row after taking a 104-mph J.J. Hardy line drive off the left calf in the second inning that very well could have knocked him out of the game.
Not that the Cy Young candidate took any solace in taking just his fourth loss in 30 outings.
“I mean, we lost. It’s a big game. There’s no satisfaction in that,” Porcello said after the game. “We’re not playing for personal numbers; we’re playing to win. This was a big game for us.”
The 27-year-old’s defeat allows us to put his historic home numbers in perspective, however. Only one other pitcher in Red Sox history won his first 13 starts at Fenway — Boo Ferriss in 1946 — and Porcello was the only pitcher in baseball this season to have not lost any of his first 14 home starts. (He earned a no-decision at home on June 23.)
Porcello still leads all qualified pitchers in wins at 20-4, and he’s gone seven-plus innings while allowing three runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts. So, while a perfect home season isn’t in the cards for the right-hander, there’s still plenty to admire about his 2016 campaign.
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Orioles:
— Mookie Betts made the defensive play of the night in the ninth inning when he doubled up Manny Machado at second base trying to tag from first on a Chris Davis fly ball. It was the Red Sox right fielder’s 13th outfield assist of the season, tying him with Colby Rasmus for the second-most in baseball.
“How far he’s come as an outfielder in two years’ time is pretty remarkable,” Farrell said after the game. “A guy that converts (from second base) two years ago … He’s doing one heck of a job all the way around.”
— The Red Sox haven’t ruled out the prospect of Steven Wright pitching again in 2016, but the knuckleballer still hasn’t begun throwing yet, and Farrell didn’t sound overly optimistic Wednesday about getting him back.
“We recognize there’s (17) games left,” Farrell said. “He’s going to have to build up some. I don’t want to rule it out. At this point, it’s going to become a little bit more challenging with each passing day.”
— Andrew Benintendi hasn’t gotten a plate appearance since being activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, but Farrell said the rookie outfielder will figure into Boston’s upcoming series against the New York Yankees.
“We’ve got three right-handers coming with New York the first three games,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game. “I’m sure we’ll see Andrew on the field in that series.”
— Former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday as their vice president of baseball operations, and Farrell, who was hired by Cherington in 2013, spoke glowingly of his former boss before Wednesday’s game.
“He was great in understanding what his vision was,” Farrell, who was hired by Cherington prior to the 2013 season, said. “For those that worked most closely with him, he was always able to articulate what he wanted to see, not only from the organization, but from individual departments that would be an integral piece to that overall organization. From that standpoint, he was great.
“No matter who he works for, obviously now with Toronto, he’s going to make a great contribution, no doubt. His legacy is left here — there are imprints all over this current team and the people he brought in.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images