Rick Porcello gave the Red Sox a start Wednesday that the team hopes can turn its season around. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Why 2nd inning in Rick Porcello's gem vs. Blue Jays was the difference

Ryan Hannable
April 29, 2015 - 6:43 pm

Between the second and seventh innings, Rick Porcello retired 13 straight Blue Jays hitters en route to going seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball in the Red Sox' 4-1 win Wednesday night. It was an impressive start that the Red Sox desperately needed, but Porcello said that stretch wasn't even the biggest of his outing -- it was allowing just one run in the second inning. "My back was against the wall right there," Porcello said. "We were able to get a big double play. [Dustin Pedroia] made a great play to turn it. That was huge. To me getting out of it with just one run was the difference. We were able to go ahead when Hanley [Ramirez] hit the home run and put some runs up there. I was able to settle down and get some quick outs and get deep in the game." After striking out the side after a lead-off walk in the first inning, Porcello allowed Kevin Pillar to open the second inning with a double. Michael Saunders, the next batter, reached on an error by Porcello as he couldn't step on first base when he was receiving a flip from Mike Napoli. He then hit Dalton Pompey to load the bases with no outs. Catcher Josh Thole hit a liner that Xander Bogaerts couldn't handle, but Mookie Betts alertly was able to force Saunders out at third base with Pillar scoring on the play. Porcello was able to get out of the inning with just the one run when he induced a 4-6-3 double play started by Pedroia. The offense carried the momentum over to the next half inning when they put up three runs -- a David Ortiz RBI single followed by a two-run Ramirez homer. The Red Sox' pitching staff's nemesis has been shut down innings, so the third inning was particularly important for Porcello, especially struggling in the second and throwing 38 pitches after two innings. Porcello responded in a big way with a 1-2-3, 11-pitch inning, which set the tone for the remainder of the game. "A quick inning and getting back in the dugout was huge," he said. "To keep the momentum and our offense on their pitcher it's kind of one of those things where you know you just scored some runs and you want to go out there and throw up zeros." The 26-year-old right-hander finished the night going seven innings, allowing one run on two hits while walking two and striking out six. He lowered his ERA to 5.34, as the team entered Wednesday with the worst starters ERA in baseball. '€œHe gave us exactly what we needed," manager John Farrell said. "Seven strong innings. Turns it over to the bullpen with [Junichi Tazawa] and Koji [Uehara] doing their job. As much as we talked about the starter setting the tone, Rick certainly did that tonight." For an April start, it was a pretty big one. Tuesday night Clay Buchholz went just 2 1/3 innings after Wade Miley went just 2 1/3 Sunday, and prior to Wednesday, eight out of the first 21 games of the season the Red Sox' starter failed to make it out of the fifth inning. There were many whispers about how much longer the Red Sox could stick with their current rotation before making a move. Prior to the game, the pitching staff, catchers, Farrell and possibly a few others held a meeting. "I don't know what John [Farrell] said, but we talked," catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "We all talked, the pitching staff, me, John -- command the fastball both sides of the plate, in the zone. That's what we did. That was the game plan we talked about working towards -- pitching in more, pitching up more. Getting better counts. All those things worked tonight. It was a good start." Although it was just one start, it was one the rest of the rotation can look at and feed off of, as they look to end the trend of poor outings. "I think guys were a little bit frustrated with how things have gone," said Hanigan. "I still have a lot of confidence in these guys. These are quality guys, we just have to make adjustments in terms of what we're doing. Tonight was the first step."