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A's 6, Red Sox 5: Rick Porcello can't forget those two at-bats

Rob Bradford
May 14, 2018 - 11:14 pm

Rick Porcello wasn't buying not being able to put hitters away. He was pleased enough with his overall stuff. And the Red Sox starter could even live with the two home runs he surrendered.

It was just those two, fourth-inning at-bats Monday night that clearly ate at Porcello after the Red Sox' 6-5 loss to the A's at Fenway Park. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Making the moments in question even more painful was that they came courtesy the last two hitters in the Oakland lineup, with the opportunity to keep the visitors under wraps only a few key pitches away. But, no such luck for Porcello, or the Red Sox.

With the Red Sox claiming a 2-1 lead after three innings, Porcello kicked off the fourth with a quick groundout off the bat of Khris Davis. And even after singles from Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, the righty was able to come back with a strikeout of Mark Canha. The light at the end of the tunnel was officially in sight.

But with the count full, and the runners going, Porcello put a cutter in a place Jonathan Lucroy could do some damage, resulting in a two-run double.

The pitch to Lucroy, we’d been throwing a lot of sinkers off the plate. Felt like there was an opportunity for a front-door cutter, doubled up on it and he put a good swing on it. Go back and look at it, it was pretty much right where I wanted to throw it," Porcello said. "Just the same look twice. Probably not a smart decision on my part. That was pretty much it. Other than that, the two home runs were hard-hit balls and they got a couple of singles and strung together a lot of hits, but I really felt halfway decent out there. I just didn’t get out of that jam in the fourth and that ended up being the difference."

To make matters worse, Porcello couldn't keep the A's within a run to end the inning with No. 9 hitter Dustin Fowler (he of the .133 batting average) rifling a triple on the second pitch of the at-bat. From then on, Oakland wouldn't trail again.

"I don’t think there was a whole lot of trouble early," said Porcello, who would give up five runs over six innings, increasing his ERA to 3.28. "Ground ball through the hole in the second and then a ground ball in the third and they get runners on like that. The fourth inning was the biggest inning. Two outs. Had an opportunity to get out of it and I give up the big hit. Double by Lucroy and the nine hitter comes up and actually, both of those pitches felt like they were halfway decent pitches they just put good swings on them and the nine-hitter hit a ball to center off the wall and scored another run. The home runs were, tip your hat because they hit the ball hard and they hit the ball out of the ballpark. They were good swings. The fourth inning, pitches with two outs to Lucroy and Fowler, to me, were the biggest pitches of the night and they capitalized and we didn’t."

For Porcello, it marked his first loss of the season (5-1), and second straight subpar outing. The good news for the starter? He still felt it was a step in the right direction after giving up five runs over 5 1/3 innings in Yankee Stadium in his last outing.

"I felt a lot better coming out tonight as far as stuff goes," Porcello said. "At the end of the day stuff doesn’t get you W’s. You have to go out and make pitches. You have to rebound in four days and execute the pitches I need to make."

The Red Sox are now 11-11 in their last 22 games, falling to 11-5 in one-run games. They are now 5-5 against left-handed starting pitchers, having scored four runs over six innings against their no-hit nemesis, Sean Manaea, this time around.