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Red Sox 5, Cardinals 4: Bullpen comes up big in gritty comeback win 05.18.17 at 12:44 am ET
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Craig Kimbrel threw a scoreless inning Wednesday night. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

Craig Kimbrel threw a scoreless inning Wednesday night. (Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports)

Despite injuries to two of their better relievers in Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, who haven’t appeared in a game this season, the Red Sox bullpen has been one of the biggest surprises so far this year.

Entering play on Wednesday, the bullpen had an ERA of 2.90, good for fourth in baseball, and that was before arguably its best performance of the season.

The Red Sox bullpen combined for seven scoreless innings in their 5-4 win in 13 innings over the Cardinals.

For a complete game recap, click here.

Starter Rick Porcello allowed four runs in the first two innings, but did settle down as he finished the game by going six innings and allowing four runs on nine hits, while walking three and striking out six.

Following Porcello, every member of the bullpen got into the game with Fernando Abad (win) delivering the best performance by going two innings. Other relievers to get in were Robbie Ross Jr. (2/3 of an inning), Matt Barnes (1/3 of an inning), Joe Kelly (2/3 of an inning), Robbie Scott (1/3 of an inning), Craig Kimbrel (one inning), Heath Hembree (one inning) and finally Ben Taylor (one inning, save).

The group combined to retire 20 of the 25 batters it faced, as the Cardinals never threatened much once Porcello exited the game.

The Red Sox seemed out of the game most of the way, as it was 4-0 from the second inning all the way until the seventh when they scored two runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to tie the game at four. It took until the 13th inning to plate the go-ahead run and it came with two outs.

Mitch Moreland had a two-out bloop ground rule double, which was followed by an intentional walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. This set the stage for pinch-hitter Chris Young, whose RBI single was the difference.

The performance of the bullpen is encouraging considering it has been asked to do a lot not only with the absence of Smith and Thornburg, but having to log a lot of innings with the issues the No. 4 and 5 starters in the rotation have had.

Once those two pitchers return, and if the group continues to throw like it has, the Red Sox could have one of the best bullpens in baseball come the second half of the season.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Before Wednesday, the Cardinals were 19-0 this season when leading after seven innings.

Read More: Ben Taylor, Fernando Abad, rick porcello,
Rick Porcello: ‘Thankfully Mookie’s all right, we’ll go out there and kick their ass tomorrow’ 05.01.17 at 11:54 pm ET
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Rick Porcello didn't seem to like Mookie Betts getting hit Monday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello didn’t seem to like Mookie Betts getting hit Monday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Before the game it seemed like things had calmed down between the Orioles and Red Sox, but maybe they didn’t after all.

In the sixth inning the Orioles were leading 2-0 with no one on base and one out when Mookie Betts was hit by a pitch on a 2-1 count by Orioles starter Dylan Bundy.

Betts didn’t escalate the situation and took first base, and nothing else happened during the game, but the Red Sox appeared to take note of it.

While they didn’t say it, it appears they believe Bundy’s pitch was in retaliation for Matt Barnes hitting Manny Machado in Baltimore just over a week ago. Bundy and O’s manager Buck Showalter said it wasn’t intentional after the game.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello didn’t have comment, but did add, “we’ll go out there and kick their ass tomorrow.”

“I have no comment on that,” Porcello said. “I can’t tell you what they’re thinking or what they’re trying to do there. What was the count, 2-1? Who knows? I don’t know. Thankfully Mookie’s all right, we’ll go out there and kick their ass tomorrow.”

Hanley Ramirez didn’t have much to say either, but is looking forward to the rest of the series.

“I mean, what can I say? It is what it is,” Ramirez said. “It’s baseball. I don’t know what happened. He got it. … We continued to compete after that and we’ll come back tomorrow and try to win the series.”

Dustin Pedroia on the other hand, didn’t want to get into it at all.

“Bro I don’t know,” he said. “I’m more concerned that we’re trying to play better baseball.”

Added Pedroia: “I don’t — can I go home? This is ridiculous, man. We’re trying to play baseball and win games. I don’t have time for this.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: hanley ramirez, mookie betts, rick porcello,
Orioles 5, Red Sox 2: When will the offense start scoring runs for Rick Porcello? at 10:20 pm ET
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Manny Machado hit a solo home run off Rick Porcello in the sixth inning. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Manny Machado hit a solo home run off Rick Porcello in the sixth inning. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Not only can’t the Red Sox score runs for Chris Sale, they really can’t score runs for Rick Porcello.

For the fourth straight start, the Red Sox failed to score a run while Porcello was in the game, as they fell to the Orioles 5-2 Monday night at Fenway Park.

The streak has now reached 26 straight innings overall where the Sox have failed to score a run for him and the Sox right-hander now has the same number of losses this year (on May 1) than he did all of last year when he won the American League Cy Young.

For a complete game recap, click here.

Porcello went six innings and allowed two runs on five hits, while not walking a batter and striking out seven. It was his third straight start of going at least six innings and allowing two earned runs or less, but unfortunately for him he has taken losses in all three of those games.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about my personal record, it’s about the team,” Porcello said. “That’s where the frustration lies. You’ve got to keep playing. It’s a tough game, you go through ups and downs obviously, we’ve got to things better on all sides of the ball, keep battling and we’ll come through.”

The Red Sox are now 2-4 in games he starts this year, which comes after they went 25-8 in his starts a year ago. With the way he is pitching, last year these games would have likely been wins as the Sox actually gave him run support last season. This also furthers the argument that wins and loses don’t mean much for a starting pitcher.

The right-hander was rolling on Monday until the fifth inning when he allowed the first run of the game, on a two-out double from No. 9 batter Caleb Joseph, who was added to the starting lineup just two hours before first pitch. The second run game in the sixth when Manny Machado crushed a fastball into the Green Monster seats.

Thanks to three errors in the eighth inning, the Orioles tacked on three more runs.

Offensively, the Red Sox couldn’t get anything going until the eighth inning when it was too late, and even then it was an adventure. Hanley Ramirez hit a ball off the Monster, but failed to see Andrew Benintendi stopped at second base, so the Sox had two players at second base and Benintendi was tagged out.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

According to Stat Cast, Machado’s home run trot was 29.2 seconds. Since 2015 he’s only had one slower trot than that.

Read More: manny machado, rick porcello,
Rick Porcello seems to have figured things out, but still takes loss vs. Yankees 04.26.17 at 11:22 pm ET
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Rick Porcello allowed three runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello allowed three runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

You can’t win any games when you don’t get any run support and that has been the case for Rick Porcello of late.

For the third consecutive start, Porcello left the game with the Red Sox not scoring any runs for him.

On Wednesday, the Red Sox tried to rally late, but fell 3-1 to the Yankees at Fenway Park.

The right-hander went 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, while walking four and striking out nine. The nine strikeouts were a season-high and the most he’s recorded at Fenway Park since April 20 of last year.

Porcello’s fastball was working well, especially with getting the Yankees to swing-and-miss. The right-hander set a career-high with 20 swing-and-misses overall.

“I felt good with it,” he said. “I think sinker and four-seam, the combination of both, was pretty solid today. So I’ve got to keep building off that. The walks, they’ll come back to hurt you.”

The Yankees scored two runs in the second inning on an Aaron Judge two-run homer (one run was unearned due to a Xander Bogaerts error), and added another in the sixth following a two-out walk and a Greg Bird single off the Monster.

That was all the damage Porcello allowed, but he knew the walks and the pitch to Judge were mistakes.

“Fastball middle-in, he put a good swing on it,” Porcello said. “Other than that really, I felt pretty good. Couple walks I didn’t care for but other than that, kept the game under control and gave us a chance.”

After a shaky start to the season, Porcello has posted back-to-back good outings, as he allowed three runs (none earned) over seven innings in his last start against the Blue Jays.

“Just getting back under control, that’s the biggest thing,” he said of what’s been working. “When I get in trouble game speeds up, get out of whack a little bit and I end up overthrowing so just keeping that mind frame of staying relaxed and executing pitches.”

With the rest of the rotation a little rocky to open the year, and still waiting on David Price, the Red Sox need Porcello to be close to what he was last year and the last two outings have shown he can be.

“He’s looking good, man. He’s looking like the Rick we know,” Bogaerts said.

Read More: rick porcello, xander bogaerts,
Rays 10, Red Sox 5: Why Rick Porcello’s poor outing was even more surprising than you think 04.14.17 at 10:47 pm ET
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Rick Porcello had a tough outing on Friday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello had a tough outing on Friday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello was not the pitcher who was supposed to struggle on Friday night.

Coming into the game, Porcello had won five straight decisions against the Rays, while Rays starter Chris Archer entered the game with a 1-11 record and a 5.38 ERA in 16 starts vs. the Red Sox, including a 7.30 ERA at Fenway.

It turned out Porcello looked like the pitcher who had the 7.30 ERA at Fenway, as the right-hander allowed eight runs on eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings, while walking two and striking out five to take the loss. He also allowed four home runs, which were were a career-high.

Ultimately, the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 10-5.

In addition, Porcello had several streaks come to an end (regular season only, not including ALDS vs. Indians last year).

His MLB-leading 20th straight start of going six or more innings came to an end, as well as his AL-leading streak of going five or more innings in 43 straight starts. He also saw a streak of 15 quality starts come to an end. It was the longest active streak in the majors.

“You can live with singles,” Porcello said. “I don’t think it’s so much the number of hits. I’m attacking guys with the fastball. It’s just about location. That’s it. I’ve got to get better with my sinker and four-seamer command and using those two fastballs. That’s really the bottom line. There’s no secret to it. It’s pretty simple. Execute the ball better.”
Added Porcello: “I feel fine. Mechanically I’m pretty much the same. It’s just pinpointing the fastball. I’m not locating it well enough to get in advantage counts and it’s causing me to leave pitches over the plate when I fall behind.”

On the other hand, Archer went 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run on six hits, while walking two and striking out five to pick up the win.

(For a complete recap of the game, click here.)

Porcello is coming off his Cy Young season, but also has dominated the Rays over the course of his career, which made the poor outing even more surprising.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox 7, Tigers 5: Sandy Leon stays white hot to lead late rally for victory 04.09.17 at 4:39 pm ET
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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon was once again the star on Sunday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon was once again the star on Sunday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

What’s left of the Red Sox didn’t look sick when it mattered on Sunday.

With Mookie Betts back in the lineup and the Red Sox doing their best to shake off the effects of an influenza outbreak ravaging their clubhouse, white-hot catcher Sandy Leon delivered a tie-breaking two-run single in the eighth to pace a 7-5 victory over the Tigers and end a two-game losing streak.

The Red Sox have seen a half a dozen players and staff — and one broadcaster — felled by the flu bug over the last week. One player to stay healthy? Leon.

The catcher who caught fire upon being summoned last summer has rediscovered that form at just the right time, following a ho-hum spring training with a blistering start to this season.

One week into 2017, Leon is hitting .438 with a home run and five RBIs. All three numbers lead the team’s regulars.

On Sunday, his line single to right-center with the bases loaded scored two off the beleaguered Tigers bullpen, breaking a 4-4 tie that had been created one batter earlier when Brock Holt forced in the tying run with a bases-loaded walk.

“I feel really good,” Leon told reporters. “I’m just trying to keep it really simple, get a good pitch to hit.”

That kick-started a four-run frame that made a winner of reliever Matt Barnes, who returned from the bereavement list to pitch two scoreless innings in support of starter Rick Porcello, who danced in and out of danger over his six-plus innings, allowing 11 hits and four runs. Nick Castellanos chased Porcello with a leadoff homer in the seventh after the Red Sox had scored a run to tie the game at 3-3.

Porcello (1-0, 4.38) reverted back to a problem from 2015 by failing to record shut-down innings. Twice he allowed runs immediately after the Red Sox scored. A third time it only took an inning to allow the equalizer.

The Red Sox tied things at three in the seventh on some heads-up coaching, when they challenged the neighborhood play at second base on what should’ve been an inning-ending double play. It was ruled that Ian Kinsler missed the bag, extending the inning, and Andrew Benintendi made the Tigers pay by lining the tying single to left before being cut down trying to stretch it into a double.

Closer Craig Kimbrel made things interesting in the ninth, walking the first two batters on nine pitches before allowing a mammoth blast down the right field line to Victor Martinez with one out that hooked foul. Martinez lined an RBI single to right before Kimbrel settled down to record the final two outs.

Offensive stars for the Red Sox included Chris Young (2-for-4), Marco Hernandez (3-for-4), and Leon (2-for-4).

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Betts extended his streak of plate appearances without a strikeout to 87, the longest run in the big leagues since 2015 and the longest by a Red Sox player since Wade Boggs went 107 plate appearances between punch-outs in 1991. Betts’ last strikeout came on Sept. 12 against Orioles reliever Oliver Drake.

Read More: Red Sox, rick porcello, Sandy Leon, tigers
After winning American League Cy Young in 2016, Rick Porcello picks up right where he left off 04.03.17 at 6:45 pm ET
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It was a solid first start of the year for Rick Porcello (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

It was a solid first start of the year for Rick Porcello (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

After winning the American League Cy Young in 2016, it will to be hard to duplicate the performance again this season, but Rick Porcello got off to a good start in Monday’s 5-3 win over the Pirates on Opening Day at Fenway Park.

Porcello was dominant at home last year, going 13-1 with a 2.97 ERA, and he picked up where he left off on Monday.

The right-hander went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out five to pick up his first win of the year. The outing could have gone even better, as he took a shutout into the seventh inning, but began to labor.

He allowed the first two men to reach before getting a ground out, but couldn’t get out of the inning as he allowed a RBI single to Josh Harrison, which ended his afternoon at 96 pitches. Matt Barnes came on in relief, but allowed both inherited runners to score.

Manager John Farrell could tell Porcello was laboring even in the sixth, but it was in the seventh that it really started to show.

“When we extended the inning in the fifth, it started to take its toll after a long inning,” he said. “You could see the stuff maybe get a little tight going out for the sixth inning. He got through it fine. Any time you’re starting to elevate pitches and his cutter was up-and-in to [Fransisco] Cervelli, those are pitches for fatigue maybe starts to set in.”

Self-admittedly, Porcello didn’t have his best stuff, but was still able to make it past five innings for the 42nd straight start. This is the longest active streak in the American League and second-longest by a Red Sox pitcher since 1913.

Read the rest of this entry »

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To nobody’s surprise, John Farrell has named Rick Porcello his Opening Day starter 03.15.17 at 11:40 am ET
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Rick Porcello will start on Opening Day. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello will start on Opening Day. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — You win a Cy Young Award, the honors keep coming.

Before facing the Rays on Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed that Rick Porcello will start on Opening Day against the Pirates at Fenway Park. Farrell said Chris Sale will start the second game, and that the rest of the rotation would be determined by camp, with Eduardo Rodriguez potentially in line for the third spot.

It will be the first Opening Day start for Porcello, whom Farrell informed of his decision upon arriving at spring training. It didn’t require extensive debate.

“No. There really wasn’t,” Farrell said. “We had three candidates that were certainly worthy and capable, but I think there’s a lot to be said for the year Rick had, the leader he’s become on our team, and the dependable pitcher that he is. All of those factors, that was something in some brief discussions with some other guys in the offseason, but as I mentioned to both David Price and others, we need to get deeper into camp. This conversation will happen at the appropriate time. We felt like if everything played out with no issues, Rick would be the guy.”

Porcello went 22-4 last year with a 3.15 ERA to surpass former teammate Justin Verlander in the Cy Young Award voting. Both Price and Sale have maintained since the start of camp that Porcello should get the ball on Opening Day.

“You pitch really well, you earn the Cy Young Award or are voted the top pitcher in the league, i think that carries a lot of weight in the minds of other pitchers,” Farrell said.

Read More: Red Sox, rick porcello,
Rick Porcello hit on hand by comebacker, says he’s OK after leaving start against Mets 03.08.17 at 4:17 pm ET
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Rick Porcello hurls on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello hurls on Wednesday in Port St. Lucie. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Red Sox rotation already battered by injuries to David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Steven Wright could ill-afford to lose defending AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, too.

So everyone in Red Sox colors at Tradition Field on Wednesday held their collective breath when a fourth-inning comebacker by Yoenis Cespedes drilled Porcello in the right thumb.

With manager John Farrell and the training staff on the field, Porcello waved them off before throwing two warmups and remaining in the game. He promptly allowed a home run and long double before departing for the afternoon, but all that mattered was how he felt, and on that count he seemed OK.

“It happens quickly, so immediately I’m just trying to get the sting out of it,” he said. “I was able to throw a couple pitches, and the second warmup pitch I was able to get it down in the zone. There wasn’t anything I felt was going to affect me making pitches.”

Porcello’s thumb wasn’t wrapped or iced in the clubhouse. He wasn’t sure if the thumb played a role in the final two hits.

“There’s no way of telling,” he said.

As for the performance itself, Porcello went three innings, allowing five hits and four runs. He also struck out four. Three of the runs scored after he was hit.

“I felt really good,” Porcello said. “Obviously up until the fourth there when there were some loud hits, the ball was coming out of my hand a lot better. A couple mechanical things I’m still battling a little bit. As far as the ball coming out — sinker, four seamer, curveball, changeup — everything is feeling good. The biggest thing today is I fell behind a bunch of guys early in the game and kind of throughout. I’ve got to get back to attacking the zone early in the count, strike one, and go from there.”

As for the day’s other big story, Porcello struck out Mets DH Tim Tebow on four pitches.

“I don’t know anything about him, so I do what I do against all guys I’ve never faced before: attack with my fastball until they show they can hit it,” Porcello said with a shrug.

Read More: Red Sox spring training, rick porcello,
Red Sox manager John Farrell not ready to name Opening Day starter 12.06.16 at 6:32 pm ET
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Chris Sale

Chris Sale

On a team with two former Cy Young award winners — including the reigning champ — what happens when you add a pitcher everyone assumes will claim the award himself one day?

If you’re Red Sox manager John Farrell, the first question you’re asked is who starts on Opening Day?

Conducting his annual press conference at the Winter Meetings in Maryland on Monday, Farrell told reporters he doesn’t know which if his aces will take the hill when the Red Sox open the season in April against the Pirates.

It could be defending Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. It could be $217 million former winner David Price. Or it could be potential future winner Chris Sale, acquired from the White Sox in a blockbuster earlier in the day.

“Oh, geez. Are you sitting in for Jonny Miller or what?” Farrell joked of the long-time WBZ reporter who likes to ask tough questions. “We’ll have plenty of time to figure that out. But the way that Rick emerged last year — first of all, just you think about Chris Sale as an addition, you think about the returning guys, another year in the progression of Eddie Rodriguez, I think as he continues to understand who he is as a pitcher and what makes him the most effective, David Price obviously, Steven Wright, get him back on track. And that’s not to leave out Drew Pomeranz or Clay Buchholz.

“There’s a surplus right now, but when you think about the high end of it, this is an exciting group.”

Where Sale slots into the rotation will be fascinating to watch. He’s probably the most talented of the three, though Farrell will have plenty of time to sort out the answer to that question.

Read More: chris sale, David Price, MLB trade rumors, opening day starter
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