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Red Sox 5, Astros 10: Rick Porcello looks good in loss

The Red Sox lost, but there were positives

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox had some flashbacks to October in their big loss to the Astros on Thursday, but it wasn’t all bad. Hanley Ramirez went yard, Blake Swihart stayed hot and Rick Porcello had a good spring debut.

Rick Porcello gets 2018 off to a good start

To this point in the spring, the Red Sox had been holding off on getting their big starters to the mound. Instead, they’ve been easing the regulars into the year and sending out some of the depth options for the February starts. That changed on Thursday with Rick Porcello getting the nod, and things got off to a good start for the 2016 Cy Young winner. He was out there for two innings in this game without allowing a run, though he did allow two hits. One was a single through the middle while the other was a double down the left field line. In addition to the two hits, Porcello got four strikeouts (all looking) and two ground outs. The Red Sox righty is a wildcard this season, as he’s been reliable only in eating innings and taking spring training photos. Beyond that, his performance has been a roller coaster ride, and hopefully we’ll be back on the way up in 2018. We should see some more starters in the coming days, with Drew Pomeranz going on Friday, Chris Sale in a minor-league game on Saturday and David Price in a minor-league game on Monday.

Swihart stays hot, Hanley goes deep

The Red Sox offense wasn’t a disaster or anything on Thursday, but they couldn’t quite keep up with the Astros. We’ll start with the good, and there was some of that. Blake Swihart continued to be an extra-base hit machine, smacking a double off Charlie Morton in the second. He now has four two-baggers this spring along with a home run. Speaking of home runs, Hanley Ramirez got his first of the spring, taking a Collin McHugh fastball out to center field to lead off the fourth inning. Boston had two other extra-base hits in this game, with Deven Marrero doubling in the fifth and Esteban Quiroz hitting an RBI triple in the ninth. Boston also got singles from Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez, Aneury Tavarez and Tzu-Wei Lin. On the bad side, Mookie Betts has not had the best of starts to his spring, though that’s obviously not something to worry about at this point. He went hitless in this game in three at bats, and he has yet to record a hit this spring. On top of that, Betts was picked off/caught stealing after reaching on an error. Continuing with the negatives, depth catching option Oscar Hernandez recorded a throwing error.

Minor-League relievers did not fare well

Although Porcello got things off to a strong start on the mound for the Red Sox, the relievers did not follow suit. The good news is that Boston didn’t really send out anyone who is likely to contribute in the majors this year. Bobby Poyner has the best chance to see Boston of all today’s relivers, and he had a strong outing with a perfect inning that included one strikeout. The other potentially exciting name to take the mound was Jake Cosart, and he had some bad control that has become too common over his career. He walked two batters while striking one out and he allowed an unearned run on Hernandez’ throwing error. There’s not much to say about everyone else who pitched, but you can see the box score below if you’re interested.