Jose Bautista (left) circles the bases with Jose Reyes after homering on Wednesday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Rick Porcello crushed in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

John Tomase
July 01, 2015 - 11:36 am
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The Red Sox acquired Rick Porcello this winter in the hopes that he could be a stopper. In a sense he has delivered, except what he's stopping is any hope of a winning streak. And now it's fair to wonder if he'll even make his next start. In what goes down as his worst start in a season full of them, Porcello didn't remotely give the Red Sox a chance on Wednesday afternoon in Toronto. The Blue Jays tagged him for seven hits and seven runs in just two innings, including three home runs. Porcello added three walks and a wild pitch for good measure, throwing just 44 pitches before being lifted to start the third in an 11-2 loss. "The most disappointing [thing] through all of this, especially this one, is how well we've been playing as of late," Porcello said. "I'm letting my teammates down. That's it." Porcello saw his ERA rise to 6.08, fourth-worst in baseball among full-time starters. He also halted the momentum the Red Sox had built by winning four of five and pulling within six games of first place in the AL East, while simultaneously denying the club its first four-game winning streak of the season. And make no mistake, even on an afternoon when the offense managed to do nothing against crafty left-hander Mark Buehrle, this one was all on Porcello, who may not get another start for a while. The Red Sox have two off days in the next week and could let Porcello regroup until the All-Star break. "We haven't even begun to map out next week," manager John Farrell said. "Recognize we have two off days on Monday and Thursday, but we haven't looked at the rotation as we go through to the end of the break. . . . It's been a tough run for him. It's been about an eight-start stretch where he continues to battle. His approach in between starts doesn't change. His preparation doesn't change and yet the results for the work put in is not there. So we collectively have to work with Rick to improve." Porcello let this one get away from him quickly. He allowed a line single to Jose Reyes leading off before Josh Donaldson followed with a bunt single. Jose Bautista struck out looking, but Edwin Encarnacion didn't get fooled, launching a three-run homer to left. Porcello then hit catcher Russell Martin before Justin Smoak launched a two-run homer that made it 5-0. It could've been worse, but Porcello picked off Kevin Pillar following a double. If the Red Sox harbored any illusions that Porcello had settled down, Bautista dispelled them in the second with a two-run homer to left-center. "It was a quick outing," said Farrell said. "Pitches up in the strike zone against this team on a day when the ball is carrying as it was, that makes for a tough outing. As much as we continually try to simplify his attack plan and become more consistent with fewer pitches the changeup today on two occasions came back to bite him both to Encarnacion and to Smoak. You get five quick runs and that'€™s a big hole for us to come back to." That was it for Porcello. Robbie Ross replaced him to start the third and promptly allowed Smoak's second homer of the day. Offensively, the Red Sox were held in check by the soft tosses of Buehrle, who limited them to four hits and one run in seven innings, strike out seven. Mookie Betts provided the Red Sox with their only offensive highlight with a solo homer in the eighth that made it 9-2, but by that point the damage had been done, courtesy of Porcello. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Justin Smoak entered the game hitting .261 with seven homers, and he improved on both of those numbers significantly by going 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs. WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Outfielder Mookie Betts smacked a solo homer in the seventh. -- Nothing else. WHAT WENT WRONG -- Porcello. -- Continuing a disturbing trend, Betts lost track of the outs in the outfield after recording the final out of the sixth, just as Jackie Bradley Jr. had earlier on the trip, Hanley Ramirez did previously on the bases, and Wade Miley did on the mound. "Sometimes you have mental breakdowns, especially after a long game," Betts said. "I messed up." -- Reliever Jonathan Aro allowed six hits and three runs, including a two-run homer to Josh Donaldson, in three innings of mopup work. -- The Red Sox did nothing offensively with Buehrle.

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