The Red Sox open a three-game series in the Bronx by sending Rick Porcello out against fellow right-hander Michael Pineda in a rematch of their game last Saturday at Fenway Park.
Porcello is off to a stellar 5-0 start with a 2.76 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He stifled the Yankees six days ago, going seven innings and allowing five hits and one walk with six strikeouts as the Sox rolled to an 8-0 win.
“I felt like my sinker was actually a little sporadic the first two innings,” said Porcello, who has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 innings. “I kind of found a groove with it, settled in.”
With Henry Owens only pitching three-plus innings Thursday night in Chicago, forcing the Red Sox to go to their bullpen early and often (four relievers), Boston could use a long outing from Porcello. Based on his recent history, that shouldn’t be a problem, as Porcello has pitched at least six innings in his last 13 starts, dating back to last August when he returned from a stint on the disabled list. That’s the longest active such streak in the majors, and a personal best for the 27-year-old.
In 12 career starts against the Yankees, Porcello has a 6-4 record, 3.33 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. He faced New York twice last season, going 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 0.81 WHIP — far better than his full season totals.
Pineda comes in with a 1-3 record, 6.33 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. In Saturday’s game at Fenway he went five innings and surrendered two runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts as he lost his third straight decision.
“Michael battled his butt off for five innings,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game. “We are not hitting.”
The Wall Street Journal noted that while Pineda is throwing as hard as ever (92.8 mph), his fastball command has dropped to 61 percent strikes (down from 68 percent last year and below the MLB average of 65 percent). His efficiency also is poor, with 40 percent of batters seeing at least five pitches per at-bat (up from 33 percent last year) and Pineda getting outs just 42 percent of the time he falls behind on counts of 2-0, 2-1 or 3-0 (a huge drop from 63 percent last year).
In the game against the Red Sox, it took him 77 pitches to get through the first three innings, and he matched his season high with three walks.
Said Pineda: “I’ll continue grinding and fighting every day, and everything can be better.”
Pineda, 27, has started against the Red Sox eight times in his four-year MLB career, compiling a 4-4 record with a 4.71 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Last season he saw the Sox three times, going 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
Red Sox vs. Pineda (RHP)
David Ortiz (18 plate appearances): .235 AVG/.278 OBP/.353 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Xander Bogaerts (16): .267/.313/.267, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Mookie Betts (15): .333/.333/.867, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (13): .231/.231/.231, 1 RBI
Brock Holt (11): .182/.182/.273, 1 double, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Jackie Bradley Jr. (9): .429/.556/.857, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Travis Shaw is 1-for-7 with an RBI single and a strikeout.
Hanley Ramirez is 0-for-6 with three strikeouts.
Ryan Hanigan is 0-for-1 with a walk.
Christian Vazquez is 1-for-2.
Yankees vs. Porcello (RHP)
Jacoby Ellsbury (29 plate appearances): .429 AVG/.448 OBP/.929 SLG, 2 doubles, 4 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Brett Gardner (28): .269/.321/.385, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Mark Teixeira (24): .174/.208/.174, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Carlos Beltran (23): .409/.435/.455, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Chase Headley (17): .313/.353/.563, 1 double, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Aaron Hicks (16): .231/.375/.462, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Dustin Ackley (15): .357/.400/.643, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Brian McCann (14): .214/.214/.214, 1 RBI, 5 strikeouts
Didi Gregorius (11): .125/.364/.125, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Starlin Castro (6): .333/.333/.333