BOSTON — Rick Porcello’s first playoff start with the Red Sox didn’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean the right-hander’s confidence is shaken by last Thursday night’s implosion against the Indians in Cleveland.
In fact, Porcello is champing at the bit.
The Red Sox will turn to Porcello in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday at Fenway Park if they’re able to stave off elimination in Game 3 on Monday. Eduardo Rodriguez originally was expected to start Game 4 for Boston, but Sunday’s rainout — which pushed Game 3 to Monday and Game 4 to Tuesday — means Porcello can pitch Game 4 on regular rest if Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox extend the series.
“I don’t think, for me the first game, and for ourselves as a team the first two games represent who we are as a ballclub and how good we are,” Porcello said before Monday’s game at Fenway Park. “For me, I can’t wait to get back out there and throw the ball the way I know I’m capable of. Obviously, we have to take care of business tonight (in Game 3), but I’m excited to get another start here at Fenway.”
Porcello, a Cy Young candidate who went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 33 regular-season starts, struggled in Game 1 of the ALDS, allowing five earned runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings as the Red Sox lost 5-4 at Progressive Field. He surrendered three home runs, all solo shots coming in the third inning.
So, why is Porcello so confident that Game 4 will be different if the Red Sox win Game 3 and he’s afforded another opportunity to pitch in the 2016 Major League Baseball postseason? Well, for one, he already started making the necessary adjustments after his shaky third inning in Game 1.
“I think a lot of times mechanical stuff and poor execution kind of go hand in hand for me. So I think there’s a couple of scenarios where I was trying to do a little too much with some pitches and left them up and got hurt by them with home runs,” Porcello said. “But that’s — those are little things that I can correct easily that I was actually able to correct in the game.
“But by that time we had our backs against the wall, that was the situation we were in. So just trying to be sound mechanically and that will allow me to execute the pitches I want to execute.”
A return home could bode well, too, as the Red Sox were 15-1 this season in games started by Porcello at Fenway Park. He was 13-1 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in those outings.
Still, Porcello’s success will come down to getting ahead in counts, keeping the ball down and eliminating home runs. He doesn’t expect to make any radical changes based on how Game 1 unfolded.
“I think it’s more how I kind of establish my game plan and go out there and execute my pitches. That’s really going to be the difference,” Porcello said. “I’m not going to let a couple of swings of the bat dictate or alter the things that I do well. So I’ve just got to get back to doing that. That’s really it.
“I think you give up three solo home runs in one inning, it hasn’t happened to me very often. I think if you look at those, it’s just a case-by-case basis on a not very well-executed pitch, and getting in some counts that I don’t want to get into with certain guys. I don’t think you go back and completely revamp the game plan. You just be cleaner with your approach.”
The Red Sox have their backs against the wall. And their ace wants the ball.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images