The Red Sox are in a bad way right now, and they are looking bad both with their offense and the starting pitching. With regards to the latter, it was Rick Porcello on the bump on Monday, and he was as hittable as we’ve seen him all year. Up until his last inning, he had kept the Red Sox in the game, but the Blue Jays were all over him all game long. He left too many pitches in hittable zones and had particular trouble getting the bottom of the lineup out. That needs to be where he gets his easy innings, and he just couldn’t do it in this one. As for the offense, they had some trouble against J.A. Happ. Boston did make the lefty throw a lot of pitches, but they couldn’t get any sustained rallies going and just scored one run at a time. That can work sometimes, but it needs to be supported by good starting pitching, and that wasn’t the case on Monday.
It goes without saying that Porcello has been bad much more often than he’s been good this year, and there’s no way around it. He needs to be much, much better than he’s been. That being said, there have been some good moments for the righty, and most of the time you’ve been able to tell what kind of night it was going to be for Porcello after the first inning or so. He’s attacked the top of the strike zone for two years now, and he’s shown that it can work. However, it’s a dangerous game that can result in a ton of damage with even the slightest miss. That’s exactly what happened on Monday night at Fenway.
Things got off to a rocky start for Porcello as he allowed a leadoff double to Steve Pearce — someone who would go on to hit him all night long — and after a walk that was sandwiched by two walks, up walked Kendrys Morales. The Blue Jays DH is not having a great year, but the one thing he still does is hit for power, which means you need to watch your location. Porcello failed to do that and hung a curveball belt-high on the inner half of the zone and Morales took it out over the right field wall. As he’s done so often this year, Porcello put the Red Sox in a hole before they even got to the plate.
The Blue Jays didn’t manage to get any runs off the Red Sox righty in the second, but they did get a couple of baserunners to avoid an easy inning. In the third, they tacked on another one on yet another home run. This time, it was the high fastball I mentioned above. Porcello got Jose Bautista with a trio of high fastballs in the first inning, but the Blue Jays slugger was ready for it in the third. Porcello didn’t get it quite high enough and Bautista hit it on a line and over the wall in straightaway center to give the Blue Jays their fourth run. To make matters even worse, the Red Sox had just pulled within one in the previous inning, so Porcello couldn’t come through with the vaunted shutdown inning.
The 2016 Cy Young winner settled down a bit in the next two innings, allowing a couple of baserunners in the fourth before finally coming through with a 1-2-3 fifth, but he came back out for the fifth with a pitch count in the 90s and couldn’t come through. There’s an argument to be made that he should not have been out there considering how well the Blue Jays hit him all night, but he was facing the bottom of a bad lineup and should have been able to come through. Instead, he gave up a solid single to Ryan Goins and a double to Darwin Barney for another run. To be fair to Porcello, bad outfield defense from Chris Young and Andrew Benintendi played a big role in Goins scoring from first. Next up was Raffy Lopez, and the Blue Jays catcher took a first-pitch fastball right down the heart of the plate and crushed it to right field. In the blink of an eye, and thanks to the bottom of the lineup, Toronto all of a sudden had a 7-2 lead.
Porcello would be lifted for Workman after that at bat to end what was clearly a bad outing for him. That last inning really did the most damage, but the Blue Jays were on him all night. He’s been incredibly hittable for much of this year, and while there have been some good starts the hittability (pretty sure that’s not a word but we’ll roll with it) is a major problem that needs to be solved.
While Porcello’s struggles were the main story here, the offense isn’t off the hook. Going up against a lefty who has posted good results in the past but is someone a good lineups should be able to get to consistently. The Red Sox, though, had trouble against the southpaw for much of this game.
They did get some action going fairly early, to be fair. After a first inning in which they only got one baserunner but made Happ throw plenty of pitches, the Red Sox got a second inning rally started with a leadoff double from Sam Travis. After a walk and an error by Happ, Boston suddenly had the bases loaded with nobody out. Things got off to a tough start when Deven Marrero hit a swinging bunt that resulted in one out at the plate, but Eduardo Nuñez followed it up with a two-run single to cut a then-three-run lead down to one. With runners on the corners, Mookie Betts grounded out to end the inning.
After fairly unexciting third and fourth innings, it looked like the Red Sox would be able to get something else going in the fifth when Betts led things off with a double. The team was trailing by two and the middle of the order was coming up, so this was time for damage. Instead, Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez and Travis popped out, lined out and flew out to end the inning.
In the sixth, with the team suddenly down by five, the Red Sox got a little more going with a two-out rally started by back-to-back singles from Christian Vazquez and Marrero. That put runners on the corners for Nuñez, and once again he came through with an RBI single. So, with the lead cut to four, there were two on with two outs for Betts, but he failed to come through again, striking out to end the chance.
Things went similarly in the seventh, with the team down 7-3. This time, it was a leadoff walk from Benintendi followed by a single from Ramirez to put runners on the corners with no outs. It seemed like a chance to put a big number on the board and get right back in this game. Instead, they got one run on a groundout from Mitch Moreland, but that was it. That was kind of the story of the offense all night. They had some chances, and many times they were able to plate a run, but they couldn’t get a long, sustained rally going at any point.
To make matters even worse, after Workman, Austin Maddox and Fernando Abad threw 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings, Matt Barnes came in and allowed three runs in 2⁄3 of an inning in the ninth to let the game totally get out of hand. Roenis Elias came in to finish things off.
To make the loss even worse, it was paired with another Yankees win. The Red Sox are trending in the wrong direction and all of a sudden the lead in the division is down to just 2.5. With the favorable schedule, the Red Sox need to win series right now. They can still do that against Toronto, but it’ll require wins the next two days. Boston will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the bump as they try to get back on track on Tuesday night.