Plenty is made about David Price’s postseason track record, but Rick Porcello hasn’t exactly been the epitome of reliability in October.
He took a pretty big step in changing that narrative Tuesday night.
The Boston Red Sox handed the ball to the righty for Game 4 of their American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, and he came through. Porcello allowed just one run over five innings of work, giving up four hits with no walks and one strikeout in a 4-3 series-clinching victory.
Entering Tuesday, Porcello had made four playoff starts, and his team lost in all of them (he got the decision in two of those games). He allowed 14 runs on 24 hits between those four outings.
But Game 4 was a stark contrast from past performances. He was in control of the game, posting two 1-2-3 innings, and didn’t allow a runner past second base until the fifth. Even when he wandered into trouble in that fifth inning, he mitigated damage, limiting the Yankees to just one run when it could have been more.
His showing in a series-clinching game was, in a way, poetic. This current group of Red Sox had some ALDS demons to exorcise, and it was only fitting that Porcello coming in and giving Boston a chance to win was the way the series was won.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Yankees Game 4:
— Alex Cora tweaked the lineup in Game 3 and it paid off with a 16-1 victory. Not about to get complacent, the Sox manager reworked the lineup again for Game 4, and once more it worked out.
One night after he hit for the cycle, Brock Holt was replaced for Ian Kinsler. In response, Kinsler went 1-for-4, roping an RBI double in the third inning before coming home the next at-bat.
Eduardo Nunez took over for Rafael Devers after the young third baseman went 2-for-6 with one RBI and two runs scored in Game 3. Nunez ended up going 2-for-4 with an RBI, and made a big play at third to end the game.
Maybe the biggest surprise of them all was leaving Christian Vazquez behind the plate despite Porcello’s well-documented enjoyment of throwing to Sandy Leon. The result: a fine connection between Porcello and Vazquez, and the catcher going deep with a solo home run in the fourth.
— While keeping Vazquez in the lineup may have been the biggest surprise entering the game, Cora’s decision to bring in Chris Sale was by far the most astounding in-game move. Cora had indicated before the game that it was pretty unlikely the southpaw would pitch in Game 4, but in the eighth the ace trotted out and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out one.
Sale only threw 13 pitches, meaning he should be more than fresh for a Game 1 start against the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
— The much-maligned bullpen came through once Porcello was out of the game. Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Sale threw hitless, scoreless innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Craig Kimbrel was a different story, loading the bases and allowing two runs to cross. But when it mattered most, he got Gleyber Torres to ground out with two on to end the game.
It may not have been the most conventional way to get through the final four innings, but it preserved a three-run lead against one of Major League Baseball’s best offenses.
— The Red Sox have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so they will welcome the Astros to Fenway Park on Saturday. First pitch is set for 8:09 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports Images