It's said there are three true outcomes for a pitcher: the walk, the strike, and the homer. They can keep the ball in the park, pick up strike three, and avoid ball four. The reality is more complicated than that, but it's a good general idea of what causes good and bad outings on the mound.
Rick Porcello is supposed to be a zero true outcome pitcher. His success is supposed to come from giving his defense batted balls to work with and let the rest sort itself out. Against the Twins, he was anything but, and he suffered for it, taking the 6-4 loss that left the Red Sox swept out of Minnesota.
The troubles started in the third, an inning which saw three ground balls get through for singles. It stands out especially because the big hit that scored two was a dribbler that barely got past first base in fair territory. But that's the sort of thing that will happen with Rick Porcello. Variance on ground balls is part of the deal. It's the two walks he allowed in the inning that turned it from a run-scoring frame into a mess that changed a 2-0 Red Sox lead into a 3-2 deficit.
Also the problem: home runs. The long ball problem that had plagued Porcello early in the season seemed to be correcting themselves with three homerless games, but after allowing three shots over his last two outings, Porcello was once again vulnerable today, giving up a two-run blast to Aaron Hicks in the fourth and a solo shot to Eddie Rosario in the sixth. That's six runs on the starter--not a game you can expect to win.
The offense, at least, looks slightly better with four runs on the board. But when it comes down to it, it was just Dustin Pedroia doing the work, producing a pair of two-run shots in the third and fifth. Blake Swihart came close to tying the game in the seventh, and the Sox put two men on with a third straight lefty-on-lefty single from Pablo Sandoval an a walk from Hanley Ramirez. But David Ortiz grounded out to end the inning, and by-and-large it was one man on and most of the rest off for the Red Sox today. If a productive Pedroia could certainly go a long way towards helping, it seems like we spend a lot of time talking about how a couple encouraging performances could be a sign that the offense will soon click, and very little time talking about it actually clicking.