The Red Sox will send AL Central veteran Rick Porcello to the hill Wednesday to face longtime AL East pro Phil Hughes and the Twins in the finale of the three-game series.
Porcello has faced adversity during his first year in a Red Sox uniform after coming over from the Tigers, posting a 4-3 record and a 5.07 ERA through nine starts. The right-hander has proven incapable of keeping the ball in the yard this season, allowing nine home runs in 55 innings of work. To put the number in perspective, Porcello allowed 18 dingers in his 204 2/3 innings pitched last season.
An $82.5 million signing meant to stabilize the rotation, Porcello has done anything but that over his last two starts. In 11 innings pitched, he has given up three home runs, nine earned runs and five free passes. Opponents have crushed 24 percent balls in play for line drives, leading to a .273/.360/.545 slash line.
In his most recent outing last Friday, Porcello lasted just 4 1/3 innings against the Angels before Red Sox manager John Farrell pulled the plug.
“I walked those two guys in the fifth, that hurt,” Porcello said after the 12-5 drubbing. “The fourth inning, whatever happened, happened. But those two walks and not being able to get out of that was the difference. I took full responsibility for the loss today. That was completely on me. I’ve got to do better.”
Porcello will look to get back on track vs. a Twins squad against whom he has succeeded against in the past. Porcello has logged an 8-7 record and a 3.91 ERA in 23 starts vs. the Twins.
Hughes, the former Yankee, has struggled for Minnesota in the early going, as he owns a 3-4 record with a 4.50 ERA on the young campaign. Just like his compatriot in the road dugout, Hughes has been prone to the long ball this season, allowing 10 home runs through nine starts.
Overcoming his issues with the big hit of late, Hughes has turned in two quality starts in a row. The California native hurled seven innings of two-run ball in each start, while throwing 77 percent of his pitches for strikes. In his latest outing, Friday against the White Sox, Hughes needed just 89 pitches to pitch through the seventh, displaying a supremely economical approach.
“I felt like tonight could have been seven or eight shutout for me if a few things happen differently in the fourth inning,” Hughes said after the Twins dropped a 3-2 decision.
Hughes has struggled in his career against the Red Sox, posting a 5-8 record and a 5.12 ERA in 24 games vs. Boston.
Red Sox vs. Hughes (RHP)
Dustin Pedroia (37 plate appearances): .314 AVG/.351 OBP/.657 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBIs
David Ortiz (34): .345/.412/.655, 2 HR, 3 doubles
Daniel Nava (16): .188/.188/.188
Mike Napoli (15): .400/.400/.800, 2 HR, 6 RBIs
Xander Bogaerts (7): .333/.286/.333
Brock Holt (4): .500/.500/.750, 1 double
Hanley Ramirez (4): .500/.500/.500, 2 RBIs
No other Red Sox have faced Hughes.
Twins vs. Porcello (RHP)
Joe Mauer (50): .267/.340/.378, 5 doubles, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts
Kurt Suzuki (29): .217/.310/.304, 5 RBIs, 4 walks
Brian Dozier (26): .292/.346/.667, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Trevor Plouffe (25): .227/.292/.455, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Torii Hunter (15): .429/.467/.786, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 strikeouts
Danny Santana (11): .273/.273/.455, 2 doubles, 3 strikeouts
Eduardo Escobar (10): .333/.333/.444, 1 double
Aaron Hicks (10): .125/.300/.125, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Eduardo Nunez (7): .286/.286/.286, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Chris Herrmann (5): .500/.500/.750, 1 double, 1 strikeout