Another day another brutal performance from the Red Sox starting pitcher. Rick Porcello got the call on Sunday to try and help the Red Sox salvage a split in Seattle, but after a strong showing in the first inning he got absolutely lit up. His stuff just wasn’t there and he couldn’t finish off any batter. The Mariners, to their credit, put up tough at bats all series long but Porcello just didn’t have the control or the stuff that he usually does. Seattle was able to beat up on the righty fairly quickly and knocked him out of the game before the third inning even came to a close. The bullpen and the offense were perfectly fine in this game, to their credit — the latter once again making things extremely interesting in the ninth inning — though J.D. Martinez did make a bad error in left field. Still, all in all this is on Porcello much more than anyone else, and the Red Sox will have to travel to Oakland still in search of their first even solid start.
The Red Sox were looking for a hot start in both halves of the first inning on Sunday as they attempted to get the bad taste out of their mouths from the first three games of the series. (The second game ended well, but there was a lot of bad in it, too.) Good news! That’s exactly what happened! Boston’s lineup jumped all over Wade LeBlanc in the first, getting a double from Rafael Devers that really should have been an error because it was horribly misplayed by Domingo Santana. J.D. Martienz took advantage with an RBI single to give the Sox a quick 1-0 lead. After a walk and an error on a double play ball that should have ended the inning, the bases were loaded with just one out. It seemed they might waste it, but Eduardo Núñez came through with two outs by smacking a single through the left side, and his team had a 3-0 lead after the top of the first.
Then, Rick Porcello took the mound for the bottom half as the Red Sox were desperately searching for a strong outing from their starter. Porcello didn’t have his best stuff, but the command was on point in that first inning of work and that was enough to get the job done. The righty needed only 13 pitches to get through a perfect first inning that included a pair of strikeouts. All was right with the world!
That feeling would not last very long. After the Red Sox went down in order in the second, the Mariners figured out how to get to Porcello. Jay Bruce, who had the dagger home run on Saturday, kicked things off with a double before Omar Narvaez moved him over to third with a single. Porcello did seem like he would escape the jam after a strikeout and a pop out, which was followed by Dan Vogelbach falling behind 0-2. Things were looking up, but then Porcello couldn’t put him away and eventually issued a walk. Extending the inning would prove costly when Dee Gordon knocked two in with a base hit, and the Mariners were suddenly within one.
The bad would turn into a straight-up disaster in the third inning as Porcello bottomed out. Things were out of his control to start, to be fair, as Martinez (who got the start for Andrew Benintendi in left field) lost a routine fly ball in the sun and couldn’t recover in time. The error put the leadoff batter on second, and after a fly out and a four-pitch walk Narvaez came up again. The Mariners new catcher got a flat slider middle-in and he absolutely demolished it. The three-run shot gave Seattle a two-run lead, and Porcello promptly followed up the big fly by loading the bases on two walks and a single. After allowing a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, the righty’s day was done without having even made it through three innings. Four games and four disastrous starts for the Red Sox. Brian Johnson came in and allowed two inherited runs to score before the inning mercifully ended with Seattle holding a 9-3 lead.
So, now it was on the lineup to claw their way back into this game against a Mariners staff that, frankly, hasn’t looked all that impressive this weekend. They got to work right away in the fourth when Christian Vázquez drew a walk and Devers poked a two-out single. That brought Martinez to the plate, and he recorded his 1000th hit of his career in the form of a monster three-run shot. Just like that, it was a three-run lead again.
Of course, as you know if you’ve been following this season-opening season at T-Mobile Park, you know the good times can’t last too long. With Boston holding a small amount of momentum, Johnson came back out and promptly allowed a solo home run to Bruce, pushing the deficit back up to four.
From there, we fast forward to the sixth with the Red Sox trying to close the gap little by little. They did so here when Mookie Betts launched his first homer of the year. Reliever Nick Rumbelow gave the 2018 AL MVP a fastball belt-high on the inner half and, well, you shouldn’t give that pitch to Mookie Betts. He smoked it over the wall in left field, and the Red Sox cut Seattle’s lead to three.
After Brandon Workman got through an easy sixth, Colten Brewer didn’t have quite as much of a stress-free seventh. The righty gave up a single, allowed a stolen base, recorded a strikeout but on a pitch in the dirt that got the backstop, allowing the runner to reach, and issued a walk. He did get an out in between, but the bases were still loaded with just one down. Brewer settled down, though, and showed off some of the sick movement on his curveball for two straight strikeouts to escape the jam.
In the top half of the eighth, the Red Sox got a little two-out rally going when Jackie Bradley Jr. ripped a double down the right field line and Betts drew a walk, bringing Devers up representing the tying run. Old friend Roenis Elías (who is suddenly regularly pumping 96 mph fastballs and solid secondaries, by the way) came on to face him and served up two fastballs right over the heart of the plate. Devers, who had been putting up great at bats all day to that point, let both go by and eventually flew out to end the threat.
After Ryan Brasier came on for the ninth in his first appearance of 2019 and tossed a scoreless frame, the Sox offense had one last chance. Things got off to a solid start with Martinez drawing a walk, and with one out Andrew Benintendi — pinch hitting for Sam Travis — drew a walk of his own. Suddenly, Mitch Moreland had a chance to play hero again as he represented the tying run. He would draw the team’s third walk of the inning, loading the bases for Blake Swihart, coming on to pinch hit for Núñez. Brock Holt, meanwhile, came on to run for Moreland. Swihart would draw yet another walk, closing the deficit to two and leaving the bases still loaded for Vázquez. He’d strike out, leaving it all up to Bradley Jr. The rally fell short once again, though, with Bradley grounding out to leave them loaded and end the game with another L.
The Red Sox will look to turn things around out of Seattle on Monday in the first game of a four-game set against the Oakland Athletics. Boston will send David Price out to the mound for this one to take on Aaron Brooks. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 PM ET.