Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello

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Rick Porcello’s adjustment after Saturday's first inning was simple

Nick Friar
May 11, 2019 - 5:46 pm

Rick Porcello chucked 5 2/3 scoreless innings to conclude his start against the Mariners on Saturday. Though, if you check the box score, Porcello’s outing lasted 6 2/3 innings.

The Mariners got to the Red Sox starter after he retired the first two batters in the opening inning, with J.P. Crawford singling in between a Mitch Haniger strikeout and an Edwin Encarnacion flyout. After back-to-back RBI-doubles from Dan Vogelbach and Domingo Santana, Jay Bruce took Porcello deep — 408 feet to be exact, according to Statcast.

After a single from Omar Narvaez, Porcello put a stop to the bleeding. From that point on, he only allowed one baserunner, walking Mariners second baseman Shed Long, the last hitter he faced. (This excludes the error in the third inning.)

“He didn’t execute there for four or five batters,” Alex Cora said. “They were very aggressive. They’re one of the most aggressive teams in the zone, early in counts and they made us pay. He made some adjustments, command, changing the game plan and he was able to give us 6 2/3. That was good.”

The change in game plan might seem like some elaborate shift in reassessing the scouting report. But Porcello felt his change in success came down to one thing.

“Make better pitches,” Porcello said. “I was leaving a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate. They were putting good swings on it, so it was really bear down, make better pitches. We got some quick outs the next couple innings and like I said, the offense took care of the rest. They were outstanding.”

Porcello also mentioned his battery mate, Sandy Leon, helped guide him through the rough patch and maintain his level of play throughout. For Leon, there was no doubt Porcello would work through the first frame and put it behind him.

“I know Rick, I know he’s going to fight, he’s going to make pitches,” Leon said.

Since Leon was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, he has caught each of Porcello’s last five starts. In that span, Porcello is 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 30 strikeouts over 32 1/3 innings (8.35 K/9 and just over 6 1/3 innings per start). He also has his walks under control, only giving away six free passes with Leon receiving, as opposed to the 12 he walked in his first three outings (11 1/3 innings). Safe to say Leon knows how to handle Porcello and the Red Sox won’t mess around with the tandem again.