Rick Porcello delivered his second straight strong start despite the Red Sox‘ loss to the Yankees. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Since coming off the disabled list Aug. 26 after missing about a month with a right triceps injury, Rick Porcello has been a different pitcher.
In the 15 innings he’s pitched over the two games, he’s allowed just one earned run. Despite taking the loss in the Red Sox‘ 3-1 defeat to the Yankees, he may have pitched his best game of the year.
The right-hander went eight innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits while walking a batter and striking out a career-high 13. He became the only pitcher in last 100 years with at least 13 strikeouts and one earned run or fewer allowed while taking a loss against the Yankees.
“Yeah, I think this year it’s definitely been the most consistent stuff that I’ve had,” Porcello said. “We were moving the ball around well. Blake [Swihart] called a great game back there. He was on the same page as me the entire night and we were able to execute pitches.”
Of Porcello’s 13 strikeouts, nine were looking, a sign he was on top of his game. His sinker was working well, which has been a main reason for his success over the last two starts.
“I’m basically forcing myself to throw it. That was kind of the commitment after I came off the DL — I’m going to throw my sinker and find it,” Porcello said. “If I get beat with that pitch, then so what? In order for me to have some success over here in the long run, I’ve got to find that pitch. I just took the pressure off and said, ‘Screw it, I’m throwing it.'”
The difference in the game came in the fifth inning. With the Red Sox leading 1-0, two outs and a runner on first, first baseman Travis Shaw couldn’t handle a routine Didi Gregorius grounder, as it went into right field setting up second and third with two outs.
Former Red Sox Stephen Drew made Shaw and the Red Sox pay as he lined a double into the left-center field gap scoring two runs and proving to be the difference in the game.
“That’s 100 percent on me,” Porcello said. “It was just a poorly executed pitch.”
Despite the loss, Porcello has pitched extremely well since coming off the disabled list. It started last week in Chicago against the White Sox when he went seven shutout innings. Tuesday night marked the second time all year where he’s had back-to-back starts of allowing one earned run or less.
“Overall, he’s been great since he’s returned,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate. From where I was in the dugout you could see it had angle. I know there were a number of called strike outs and that just shows you how locked in he is. He’s hitting spots with a little bit of movement and deception.”
Whether it’s being motivated by having a new president of baseball operations in Dave Dombrowski, the man who traded Porcello from Detroit to Boston this past offseason or not, whatever Porcello is doing on the mound is working.