Rick Porcello struggled mightily Wednesday, making just 68 pitches before getting pulled. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)
First innings have become the Red Sox‘ worst nightmare of late. For the third consecutive game, they gave up at least two runs in the initial frame, harpooning their chances the rest of the way.
The misery may have begun in the first, but it didn’t end until just after 11 p.m. Wednesday when the White Sox, sealed their 9-2 victory. The Red Sox have now dropped the first three games of their four-game set with Chicago, and 13 of their last 16 dating back to July 10.
It didn’t take long for the White Sox to get started, as Adam Eaton planted his fourth leadoff home run of the season just inside the Pesky Pole on the sixth pitch of the game. Four batters later, Adam LaRoche lined a shot off the Monster sending Melky Cabrera to third and resigning Red Sox starter Rick Porcello to a troublesome, but manageable scoring threat. However, on the throw in to second from left fielder Hanley Ramirez, super-utility man Brock Holt missed the short hop and with no backup to be found, allowed Cabrera to cross home plate easily, spotting the White Sox a 2-0 advantage right from the get-go.
A 2-0 deficit quickly ballooned to 5-0 in the second inning. After retiring two of the first three batters he faced during the frame, Porcello allowed three consecutive base-knocks, leading to two more Chicago runs. By the end of the inning, the right-hander had loaded the bases with a walk and hit LaRoche, sending the game further out of reach.
Leading off the next inning, Alexei Ramirez mashed a shot over the wall in left after falling behind on an 0-2 count to Porcello. A double and a single later, and Red Sox manager John Farrell indulged the crowd, yanking his bemoaned starter.
Following 4-0 and 5-0 first-inning deficits overseen by Joe Kelly and Wade Miley respectively, the Red Sox certainly hoped for a better showing from Porcello. Coming into the game with a 2.50 ERA and a .641 opponent OPS over his last three starts, he was knocked around early and often in his 200th career start. Holt’s error started his night off on a sour note and he never recovered.
Porcello left the game with the Red Sox already entrenched in a 6-0 hole. He went two-plus innings, giving up 10 hits, his 19th and 20th home runs of the season and five earned runs.
In the wake of another meltdown by the rotation, the Red Sox offense could only offer chump change in pursuit of the White Sox. Surprise performer Mike Napoli deposited his 12th longball of the season towards Lansdowne Street in the seventh inning. He also got the scoring started for the Red Sox in the fourth inning when he shot a double high off the Monster in left, scoring Xander Bogaerts.
While the Red Sox labored throughout the game on the mound, Jose Quintana did anything but for the White Sox. Fresh off his first ever complete game and shutout, Quintana tamed a Red Sox lineup which had boasted 23 runs scored over their previous three games. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowed just two runs on six hits and issued one free pass.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Porcello reverted back to his old ways Wednesday, making his worst start since the two-inning, seven-run affair July 1 vs. the Blue Jays which nearly launched a crusade against the Red Sox front office. In the White Sox series, Red Sox starters as a whole sport a 13.09 ERA and a 2.82 WHIP.
— Once again, the Red Sox proved incapable of keeping the White Sox’ best third at bay, as Eaton, Cabrera and Jose Abreu collectively 6-for-14 with four runs scored and 10 total bases. For the series, the White Sox’ top three have combined to go 22-for-45 with 13 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs.
— The Red Sox had a chance to get on the board in the third inning when Ryan Hanigan doubled to the gap in right field following a leadoff walk from Pablo Sandoval. However, White Sox second baseman Carlos Sanchez delivered a perfect throw off the relay from Avisail Garcia to gun down Sandoval at the plate for the out.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Rumored trade bait Mike Napoli helped his stock Wednesday by accounting for both of the Red Sox’ runs. The marked the 11th time in Napoli‘s last 15 games in which he’s reached base.
— Thankfully for Porcello and the Red Sox, Craig Breslow relieved him admirably, stranding both runners he had left on base by setting down Eaton, Cabrera and Jose Abreu. Breslow would retire nine of 10 batters he faced out of the bullpen.
— New addition Josh Rutledge made a positive first impression with his new team after coming over from the Angels for Shane Victorino earlier this week. The utility infielder showed off his range when he charged a weak ground ball down the third base line, bare-handed it and turned it into an out on the speedy Sanchez.