Rick Porcello took the mound for the Boston Red Sox and earned a no-decision yesterday vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. He gave up 3 runs in the 2nd inning and ended his outing after 7 with 3 hits, 3 walks, 3 runs and 9 K’s. Those 3 runs, though, look a lot worse on paper than they actually were.
After cruising through the 1st, Porcello caused himself some trouble by walking the leadoff man in the 2nd. This led to a series of unfortunate events that gave Toronto the lead. With the runner going on a hit-and-run, Eduardo Nunez was forced to leave his position to cover 2nd base. Toronto’s Martin chopped that pitch to the exact spot which Nunez had left for a single. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Pillar stepped up and hit another weak chopper to 3rd which Devers fielded and threw errantly to home, making it 1-0 Blue Jays. After 2 fielder’s choice groundouts, Granderson made it 3-0 on another ground ball, this one a little more sharply hit but still playable, that Devers again flubbed by failing to snag it in his glove and allowing it to get by him. But that was it for the Jays; 3 runs on 3 infield ground balls.
(Photo credit: Over the Monster)
Porcello was brilliant for the rest of the night. In fact, he allowed just 2 base runners outside of that 2nd inning. He racked up 9 total strike outs, riding his elite (on this night) changeup which he threw for a surprising 21% of his pitches (he had thrown the changeup for just over 12% of his pitches prior to last night). He averaged 91.6 mph on his fastball (his highest for a single game this year) and even touched 94 on a few occasions.
He threw 65 of his 103 pitches for strikes, including first pitch strikes to 19 of the 28 batters he faced, and worked the count to 2 strikes against 13 of them. Only 19% of Toronto hitters connected barrel to ball, resulting in 51.7% ground balls and 32.6% fly balls (10.3% of those never leaving the infield), and he again kept the ball in the park, keeping his goose egg for home runs allowed intact.
While Porcello did give up a season high 3 free passes (actually quadrupling his season total), it took Toronto hitters 20 total pitches to earn those walks. To put it plainly, he was on his game.
When Porcello pitches like he did last night, he’s arguably the most important pitcher on the Red Sox staff. After his horrid 2017, his Cy Young winning campaign in 2016 seemed like a distant memory, but so far this year he’s made reborn believers out of many members of Red Sox Nation.