The Red Sox said goodbye to Rick Porcello on Wednesday, or at least it feels like a distinct possibility. Maybe he’ll make a relief appearance over the weekend, and maybe there’s a small chance he’ll re-sign this winter. There’s a good chance, however, that this was the last time we’ll see Porcello in game action in a Red Sox uniform. A lot of shows mess up their finales, but the 2016 Cy Young winner stuck the landing in a very Porcello-like start. He was awful in the first inning, giving up a ton of contact and three runs in the first. Then, his offense got him some support and the righty settled way down. He ended up pitching five scoreless innings after that first, and that was that. Thanks for the memories, Rick.
After Tuesday’s series opener was headlined by Eduardo Rodriguez’ (successful) quest for 20 wins on the season, the Red Sox had another storyline with their starting pitcher on Wednesday. This time it was Rick Porcello, though it was not about anything special he was doing this season. Instead, Wednesday marked what was likely to be the righty’s final start in a Red Sox uniform. Despite his poor season in 2019, and the general up-and-down nature of his career, at the end of the day he is still a Cy Young winner and a World Series champion who spent five years in Boston. It is a notable exit, to say the least.
Porcello didn’t get any support in the top of the first with the Red Sox going down in order to start this game. Then, the bottom of the first was, in a sad way, a fitting way for his potential good-bye to begin. The Rangers were putting the ball in play with some authority against the righty and everything was finding empty spots on the field. Shin-Soo Choo started the frame off with a double before Elvis Andrus came through with a base hit and Willie Calhoun was hit by a pitch. Just like that, three batters into the inning Porcello had loaded the bases. That brought Rougned Odor to the plate, and he kept the hit parade going with a double into right field. It appeared it would clear the bases, but a strong relay ended up cutting Calhoun down at the plate.
So, it was 2-0 with just one out, but that out at the plate did seem to turn things around a bit for Boston. The Rangers did get one more run as the inning went on, but given how things started for Porcello a 3-0 deficit didn’t seem nearly as bad as it could have been.
Fortunately, as we saw so many times over Porcello’s career, the Red Sox offense came to play for him. They came out firing in the second, with J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland each singling and Gorkys Hernández drawing a walk. That loaded the bases with one down for Jackie Bradley Jr., and he brought one home on a ground out. It seemed like that was probably all they’d get with Chris Owings due up, but the infielder smacked a big base hit to bring home two more. Just like that, this game was actually tied up.
They kept it going in the third, too, after Porcello settled down for a scoreless bottom half of the second. This time it was Xander Bogaerts getting things started with a one-out single. A couple batters later, Christian Vázquez came up with two outs, and he got a cutter that stayed right over the heart of the plate. The catcher was all over it, sending it out into left-center field for a two-run shot. It not only gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, but also gave them the most home runs as a team in franchise history.
So, now with the offense doing their job, Porcello had to settle down after a rough first inning, a story that has become all too familiar throughout his tenure in Boston and particularly in 2019. Fortunately, he did settle down. He did allow a couple of baserunners in the third with a single and a hit batter, but struck out the other three in a second straight scoreless inning. He then went into full cruise control for his final three innings, retiring all nine batters he’d face over those frames.
And, well, that was that. Porcello went back to the dugout after the sixth and got the customary hugs and handshakes when a starting pitcher finishes a solid out. Except, well, I think everyone knew it was probably his last. His Red Sox career, if it really is over, ended in a fitting way as he settled with a six-inning, three run outing.
On the other side, the Red Sox offense kept adding to their all-time home run total. Mitch Moreland smashed a two-run shot in his longtime home park in the sixth before Rafael Devers contributed a solo shot in the seventh.
As we headed into the bottom of the seventh, it was a 8-3 lead for the bullpen to protect over the final three innings. Trevor Kelley was the first reliever to get the call. He would record two outs, and then Josh Taylor came in for the final out of a fourth consecutive perfect inning for Red Sox pitching.
For the eighth, Ryan Brasier was on the mound. He did break the streak of perfect innings, allowing a double and a walk with two innings, but the scoreless inning streak continued into the ninth. After the Red Sox added two more in the top of the inning, Andrew Cashner came on to finish things off. He would set the side down in order, and that was the game, sending Rick out with a W.
The Red Sox and Rangers will finish off their series on Thursday with some day baseball. Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston while Mike Minor starts for Texas. First pitch is at 2:05 PM ET.