Aside from being dominant on the mound, Rick Porcello’s march to the 2016 American League Cy Young Award was assisted by the Boston Red Sox’s bats.
The right-hander received an outpouring of run support in nearly every start last season, which helped him amass a 22-4 record en route to baseball’s highest pitching honor.
It’s been a much different tale of the tape this season, though, as the Red Sox’s offense, for whatever reason, has been quiet on nights Porcello takes the hill. Wednesday’s outing was no different, as Boston was defeated 4-1 by the Minnesota Twins, marking Porcello’s 10th loss of the 2017 campaign.
To be clear, Porcello hasn’t exactly been mowing his opponents down. Following the loss to the Twins, his ERA stands at 5.06, and his first-inning woes have been particularly noteworthy.
But arguably the most important value in a starting pitcher is the ability to eat innings, which Porcello has done to some degree. He’s pitched six-plus innings in all but one of his 17 starts this season, but the Red Sox’s bats have failed to bail him out. Porcello is receiving an average of 3.69 runs of support this year, the fourth lowest among American League starting pitchers.
After the loss to the Twins, Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged Porcello’s run-support woes this season. Farrell doesn’t believe it’s affecting the right-hander’s psyche on the mound, though, and chalked the trend up to unluckiness.
“Unfortunately for Rick this year is the other side of the coin from a year ago,” Farrell said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “Tonight might have been the eighth time he’s been on the mound and zero runs were put on the board. I can’t say that he’s pitching differently, or feeling like he has to be perfect with every pitch. Tonight is another example of that. I didn’t see that he was pitching to our offense, so to speak. That’s just the way the game goes at times.”
There’s certainly plenty of room for improvement for Porcello this season, but the Red Sox’s offense could help alleviate his troubles.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Twins.
— Fenway Park has been particularly unkind to Porcello, as he’s received zero runs of support in six of 10 starts at home this season.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. rocketed his 11th double of the season in the second inning. The Red Sox center fielder now has hit safely in 16 of his last 19 games.
— Dustin Pedroia didn’t collect a hit against the Twins, but he didn’t make an error, either. The veteran second baseman hasn’t committed a defensive blunder in his last 98 games.
— Heath Hembree struck out three in his 1 1/3 innings of relief, marking the fourth time he’s punched out three batters or more in an appearance.
— Two of the Red Sox’s brightest young stars went yard Wednesday night for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Rafael Devers parked two longballs against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, while Michael Chavis blasted one, his 20th homer in the minor leagues this season.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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