After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Going into the season it was understood the Red Sox wouldn’t have the best starting rotation in the game.

But, the worst starting rotation (by ERA) after two weeks? That wasn’t expected, or accepted.

Following Rick Porcello allowing eight runs in five-plus innings in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles on Sunday, through 12 games the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has a combined ERA of 6.24, the worst in baseball.

Porcello, who had been the best starter to this point in the year, struggled with his command as well as the home run ball, allowing two homers en route to the eight runs in five-plus innings and his first loss. He’s now allowed five home runs in 19 innings so far this season.

“Just pitches up in the zone,” Porcello said. “Good pitches for them to drive. I’€™ve got to work better at getting the ball down.”

Of the 12 games the Red Sox have played so far this season, Red Sox starters have recorded an out in the seventh inning just three times, gone less than five innings three times, and have allowed more than seven runs four times.

The last stat is particularly alarming — in a third of their games this season, Red Sox starters have allowed seven or more runs.

Clay Buchholz allowed 10 against the Yankees, Porcello eight against the Orioles, and lastly Wade Miley and Justin Masterson seven against the Nationals. (For what it’s worth, Jon Lester and John Lackey combined for four starts allowing seven or more runs all of last season)

Buchholz and Porcello were predicted to lead the rotation, but after the first two weeks the Red Sox have two players in the top-10 for worst ERA’s in the American League among qualifiers — Porcello (sixth, 6.63) and Buchholz (ninth, 6.06).

While teams can survive without an ace, those teams cannot get by without having dependable starters. With starters not going deep into games, it puts a lot of pressure on the bullpen, and sooner or later taxing the group with innings will ultimately force the group to crack. Having an ace, or two, can alleviate some of that pressure by going at least seven or more innings every time they take to the mound.

“You realize it’€™ll be a reality where a starter will put together three, four, five good runs through the rotation at a time and we’€™ll be sitting back there comparing about the lack of work and then a couple of times through it will feel like we’€™re out there pitching probably too much,” reliever Craig Breslow said after throwing three scoreless innings of relief Sunday.

So far the bullpen hasn’t seen the affects of their starters not going deep into games, as after Sunday they have an ERA of 2.74. They were 14th in baseball in relief pitching ERA going into the day, but could crack the top-10 after four scoreless innings.

The alarming trend is they’ve now thrown 49 2/3 innings in 12 games. While the 19-inning game against the Yankees needs to be taken into account, the group has thrown the third-most innings in all of baseball for relievers going into play Sunday. There is no doubt if the trend continues it can only lead to bad things.

By way of comparison to Red Sox teams in past years, Red Sox starters had an ERA of 4.36, 26th in baseball last year, leading to a last place finish. In 2013, the World Series champs had a 3.84 ERA, 11th in baseball.

Getting the ball next for the Red Sox are the two pitchers who have seemingly had the most issues this year — Masterson (10 2/3 innings/9 runs) and Miley (7 2/3 innings/9 runs) each allowing seven runs their last time out.

As Breslow pointed out, things can go the other way where starters get in a groove and go deep into games. The Red Sox can only hope that is the case coming up.

The team lost two straight games for the first time this year Sunday, and without a solid outing from Masterson on Monday, they could be looking at their third.

“You’€™ve got to have a short memory and turn the page,” Porcello said.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Some nights the Red Sox offense will be able to bail a starting pitcher out for not having a good performance, but it’s tough when the starter allows eight runs over five-plus innings.

Rick Porcello allowed eight runs and tied a career-high in hits allowed (12) taking his first loss of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello allowed eight runs and tied a career-high in hits allowed (12) taking his first loss of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Some nights the Red Sox offense will be able to bail a starting pitcher out for not having a good performance, but it’s tough when the starter allows eight runs over 5+ innings.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello allowed eight runs in 5+ innings, as they fell to the Orioles 8-3 Sunday at Fenway Park. The Orioles have won two straight games in the series after the Red Sox had a walkoff win Friday night.

After throwing 96 pitches through the first five innings, Porcello went back out for the sixth and after hitting Caleb Joseph to lead off the inning, allowed three straight hits, including a bases clearing double to Adam Jones, as the Orioles extended their lead to five runs.

Porcello finished going five-plus innings, allowing eight runs on 12 hits, while walking three and striking out six. The 12 hits allowed tied a career-high and his is ERA through three starts is 6.63.

Through 12 starts, the Red Sox’ starting rotation has a collective ERA of 6.24.

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits to earn the win. Red Sox hitters finished with six total hits in the game, and just four after the first inning. They finished the game 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Jones. Besides the big double in the sixth, Jones hit a monster home run in the first inning and finished 4-for-5 with five RBI. The five RBI and four hits both tie a career-high.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Porcello continues to struggle with allowing home runs this season. The right-hander came into the season allowing 0.94 home runs per nine innings, but has allowed five in 19 innings so far this year. He allowed a two-run Jones home run in the first and a solo homer to Ryan Flaherty in the second.

David Ortiz was ejected by home plate umpire John Tumpane (after he took over for Paul Emmel) for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning. Ortiz appeared to hold up on a check swing, but it was ruled he went around. This comes after Ortiz didn’t like a call third base umpire Jerry Meals made earlier in the game on a check swing.

— Mookie Betts continues to struggle at the plate of late, going 0-for-4 in the game. He is now 0 for his last 11, and is 4-for-21 (.190) on the homestand.

— Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-4 in the loss. He came into the game leading the team with 15 hits.

— Although the defense wasn’t charged with an error, Hanley Ramirez misplayed a ball off the wall again, allowing it to go over his head. Shane Victorino also took a poor route on a ball hit to right field and before finding it in the air, the ball landed on the warning track going for a double.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Ramirez belted his first home run at Fenway Park this year in the first inning, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead at the time. He ripped the first pitch he saw from Gonzalez over the Monster, hitting the Sports Authority sign. It was his fifth home run of the year, which is second in the American League. He went 2-for-4 in the loss.

— Taking over for Porcello, Craig Breslow gave the Red Sox a solid performance in relief. After coming in with a runner on second with no outs in the sixth, he got out of it without any damage. In all he went three innings not allowing a run on two hits. Edward Mujica threw a scoreless ninth.

— Brock Holt continues to make the most of his playing opportunities. Giving Dustin Pedroia a day off at second base, Holt singled to lead off the game and has now hit safely in six straight games.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

Anytime a pitcher visits with Dr. James Andrews the news usually isn’t good.

For Brandon Workman, it could have been much worse as the right-hander avoided surgery and received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection after visiting with him earlier this week.

Workman will remain in Boston and begin the rehab process.

“He’ll remain here. He’s still probably two or three weeks away from initiating any type of throwing program,” manager John Farrell said. “So he’ll remain here in Boston.”

“There are some changes to the ligament,” he added. “To what extent, or percentage of tear, I don’t have that. But that is why he received the injection he did.”

Farrell said the expectation is he will be able to pitch again this year.

Workman was set to begin the year in Pawtucket’s bullpen, but he had his optioned reversed as the injury first occurred while he was on the major league roster, so he is currently on the major league disabled list.

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

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

After being scratched from the lineup Saturday with bruised ribs, Shane Victorino returns to the Red Sox lineup Sunday against the Orioles.

After being scratched from the lineup Saturday with bruised ribs, Shane Victorino returns to the Red Sox lineup Sunday against the Orioles.

The right fielder spoke in the clubhouse before the game and said he feels fine after running into the right field wall Friday night. He swung in the cage during Saturday’s game and is ready to go Sunday.

Dustin Pedroia will get his first day off of the season. The second baseman is 0 for his last 7 and has committed two errors over the first 11 games.

“Just a day off. One of the benefits of Brock Holt,” manager John Farrell said.

“No, not a reaction,” to Pedroia’s recent struggles he added. “Planned day knowing we have an early morning game tomorrow and a left-hander on the mound. A chance to give him a spell.”

Holt will lead off with Mookie Betts sliding down to the No. 2 spot. Farrell said that was just a way to break up the left-handers in the order.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, as the Red Sox go up against Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.

For an extensive look at the pitching matchups, click here.

1. Brock Holt, 2B
2. Mookie Betts, CF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Sandy Leon, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello will take the mound Sunday afternoon in the third game of a four-game series against the Orioles at Fenway Park. He will be matched up against Miguel Gonzalez.

Porcello has had two good outings to start the season, which is something that the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff cannot claim. He has given up three runs in each game and has put up a 3.86 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, 10 strikeouts and three walks. One area of concern is the home run ball, as Porcello has allowed three. Even with the home runs, however, Porcello has been doing a good job of keeping balls in play on the ground. His ground out to air out ratio is 2.09, and opponents are hitting just .185 against him.

Porcello’s last start was the home opener, in which he went eight innings in a victory over the Nationals. He gave up just three earned runs while striking out six and walking one. It was his first start at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox.

“I obviously wanted to go out there and put up a good start,” Porcello said after the game. “The guys swung the bats great and really I didn’t have to do a whole lot but throw strikes and keep the ball down. Definitely had some butterflies early on, I was pretty excited, but it was a lot fun.”

In nine career starts against the Orioles, Porcello is 3-5 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.335 WHIP.

Miguel Gonzalez

Miguel Gonzalez

Porcello’s opponent on the mound will be Baltimore’s most effective starter early in the season. Gonzalez is 1-1 in two starts, but his loss was a result of his team being shut out by the Rays. He owns a 1.42 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP and has struck out 15 while walking six.

In his most recent start, Gonzalez got the win in a seven-inning outing. He gave up just one run and four hits while striking out ten and walking one.

In eight games and six starts against the Red Sox, the 30-year-old native of Mexico is 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA and a 1.279 WHIP. In two starts at Fenway last year, Gonzalez went 1-0 and allowed just one earned run in 14 1/3 innings while striking out 10 and walking five.

Orioles vs. Porcello (RHP)

Alejandro De Aza (37 plate appearances): .206 AVG/.270 OBP/.235 SLG, 1 double, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Delmon Young (25): .333/.360/.542, 1 home run, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Adam Jones (24): .167/.167/.167, 6 strikeouts

Travis Snider (12): .100/.250/.100, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Manny Machado (11): .300/.364/.300, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Steve Clevenger (5): .800/.800/1.200, 2 doubles, 1 RBI

Ryan Flaherty (5): .400/.400/.400

Everth Cabrera (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Jonathon Schoop has one strikeout in four plate appearances vs. Porcello.

Steve Pearce is 0-for-3 in three plate appearances vs. Porcello.

Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway, Chris Davis, and David Lough have not faced Porcello.

Red Sox vs. Gonzalez (RHP)

Daniel Nava (18): .333/.444/.400, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (15): .214/.267/.214, 1 RBI

Xander Bogaerts (8): .125/.125/.125, 3 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (8): .143/.250/.143, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Mookie Betts (6): .400/.500/1.000, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Brock Holt (4): .250/.250/.250

David Ortiz has two walks and two strikeouts in eight plate appearances vs. Gonzalez.

No other Red Sox have faced Gonzalez.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base.

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his five innings, taking 89 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

It remains a work in progress.

There was an understanding that it was going to take time for Hanley Ramirez to grow accustomed to playing his new position, left field. But instances like the one that occurred during the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Orioles Saturday tests the patience of all involved.