The Boston Red Sox no doubt entered Game 1 of their American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians with a lot of confidence in their starting pitcher.
Rick Porcello pitched himself into Cy Young Award contention during the 2016 season with a 22-4 record, 3.15 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and a career-low .230 batting average against. But unfortunately for the Red Sox, that wasn’t the Rick Porcello who showed up at Progressive Field on Thursday, as they lost 5-4.
The Porcello who did show up got off to a great start, striking out the side in the first inning after hitting leadoff batter Carlos Santana. But once the second rolled around, the right-hander gave up the 1-0 lead the Red Sox handed him in the first by allowing a leadoff double to third baseman Jose Ramirez and an RBI single to right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall. And then Porcello took the mound in the third.
The third inning was a disaster, as the 27-year-old surrendered a leadoff home run to catcher Roberto Perez and back-to-back one-out solo shots to second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor.
“Got into a 3-2 count against Perez, didn’t want to walk him, came after him with a fastball, hit it out of the ballpark,” Porcello said after the game, per NESN’s broadcast. “It is what it is there. Situation with Kipnis is just a bad pitch. It was elevated up in the zone, gave him a good pitch to handle after an 0-1 count. Really don’t want to give him something that he can drive there, let alone hit it out of the ballpark. And then changeup to Lindor, I’ve thrown that pitch a lot a lot this year. Haven’t really got hurt by it. Got hurt by it there.
“You can kind of spin it however you want to spin it. I threw the pitches that I thought were going to be the best pitches to throw, and they hit three balls out of the ballpark, so I’ll go back and look at it, kind of recap what happened, what the situations were, why that happened and come up with a better game plan. Hopefully we win this thing in the next three games, but if I get an opportunity in the fifth game, kind of rectify the mistakes that I made tonight.”
Porcello did bounce back with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, but his night didn’t last much longer, as Drew Pomeranz relieved him with one out in the fifth. The left-hander ended up allowing Porcello’s last baserunner to score, too, leaving the starter with five earned runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.
“I felt fine,” Porcello said. “It was kind of a weird inning, them hitting the three home runs, but I felt fine. I just had to get back in command of the game and start executing pitches a little bit better.”
The Red Sox will get a chance to bounce back Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET with David Price starting against Indians ace Corey Kluber.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images