After managing at least six innings in each start dating back to last July, Rick Porcello finally faltered Tuesday night in Kansas City, surrendering five runs in five innings as the Red Sox came up short in their first game against the Royals.
It wasn't really clear this was coming at first. Porcello didn't show many signs of the struggles to come in the first two innings. A first-inning walk to Eric Hosmer was out of character, yes, but the first two frames saw Porcello looking like his usual reliable self, striking out two and keeping the Royals off the board while Jackie Bradley Jr. put the Red Sox ahead by bringing Travis Shaw home with a double into the left field gap.
But the middle innings did not treat Porcello well at all. He saw Paulo Orlando smack a triple into right to start the third, and after that led to a tie game, it was Hosmer swinging the big bat and completely demolishing a reasonably low changeup to center field, hitting it so loud you wouldn't even have to look up to know it was 2-1, Royals.
The fourth, though, is where it really got away from him. The inning started fairly innocuously, with a couple weak hits giving them runners on first and second with one down. But from there the frame spiraled out of control, with Porcello allowing harder contact to bring home three runs even with Mookie Betts running down a well-hit ball down the right field line.
The Red Sox didn't stay far behind for long. While their performance against the struggling Yordano Ventura was not what you'd hope for from a team that had averaged better than 10 runs over their last seven games, they did manage to get to him in the sixth, with Travis Shaw hitting a three-run shot over the glove of a leaping Orlando
The shot brought the Red Sox within just the one run, but left them with no time to score it before the strong Kansas City bullpen took over. And, after Luke Hochevar came in to start the lock-up process in the seventh, Koji Uehara failed to keep the game in reach come the eighth. Entering the game with a man on first, Uehara saw everything fall to pieces when he threw a bunt past Hanely Ramirez and into foul territory in right, allowing Salvador Perez to score all the way from first. Much of that would be rendered irrelevant immediately thereafter when Orlando continued to punish the Sox with another very loud Kansas City home run, this time to left, leaving the Royals prohibitive 8-4 favorites and, ultimately, victors.
A far cry from the games we've seen from the Red Sox of late. On the road, coming off an unexpected day off, it would not be surprising if that magic tear through the first half of May is, in fact, at an end. The good news is, said stretch left them on a 102-win pace, so there was some good room to spare. And Baltimore had things quite a bit worse, getting blown out 10-0 at home. Tomorrow will be the bigger day, with two games to play, and David Price on the mound to prove he's well-and-truly fixed.