The Boston Red Sox’s strong suit going into the playoffs was their offense, but that’s not how it worked out Thursday.
The Red Sox dropped Game 1 of their American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians 5-4, partly because of a lackluster performance from starter Rick Porcello, who gave up three solo home runs in the third inning. However, the offense really didn’t do Porcello any favors.
The Red Sox swung at everything and especially had trouble with breaking balls. The Indians’ pitching staff generated a whopping 28 swings-and-misses, and 18 came on breaking pitches. Eleven of the Red Sox’s 14 strikeouts were swinging, too, with seven of those coming on breaking balls. And not all of them were good pitches, either.
“We expanded the strike zone, both up with some fastballs and below the strike zone with some hard, biting breaking balls,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, via NESN’s postgame broadcast. “So credit where it’s due. They threw very good stuff, their best guys at us with power fastballs and very sharp, finishing-type breaking balls. They expanded the strike zone, and we offered.”
Besides watching breaking balls fly under their bats all night, the Red Sox also didn’t get much production from their best hitters Thursday. Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. went a combined 2-for-20, with Betts, Bogaerts and Bradley each going oh-for.
If there’s a silver lining, though, it’s that Boston still managed to get four runs on the board, including three solo homers off the bats of left fielder Andrew Benintendi, catcher Sandy Leon and third baseman Brock Holt. The Red Sox will get a chance to recover Friday in a 4 p.m. ET matchup for Game 2 at Progressive Field.
Here are some more notes from Thursday’s 5-4 loss.
— David Price is Boston’s Game 2 starter, and if you haven’t heard, the lefty’s postseason numbers are not so great. In eight playoff starts, Price is 0-7 with a 5.27 ERA. But it’s worth looking into those numbers a little more.
Four of his eight starts were quality ones, and his team failed to put up more than three runs in seven of them, something the Red Sox have been able to do pretty easily this season. The one start the southpaw gave up seven runs in was for the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2013 ALDS against the Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series that year. His last playoff start in the 2015 AL Championship Series for the Toronto Blue Jays also was a loss to the eventual World Series winner in the Kansas City Royals.
So while Price’s playoff stats certainly aren’t ideal, there’s reason to believe the 31-year-old still could reproduce his Opening Day start at Progressive Field, where he tossed six innings while giving up just two runs and striking out 10.
— There was a lot of uneasiness from fans and media about Holt batting out of the No. 2 hole, but that noise died down pretty quickly. The third baseman fell a triple short of the cycle and went 3-for-4.
Hanley Ramirez also had a nice night, going 2-for-4 with two doubles. The first baseman brought his career postseason average up to .367 (18-for-49) in 14 playoff games with nine extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.
— Boston didn’t get the win, but the club did wear out two of Cleveland’s best relievers. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen both threw 40 pitches, and both are career-highs for them. The move worked out for Game 1, but it could be a five-game series, so we’ll have to wait and see if it ends up costing the Indians.
— For anyone who was superstitious about Porcello possibly not wearing his “lucky hat” Thursday, we’ve got some bad news.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images