BOSTON -- First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians:
Rick Porcello certainly didn’t have great feel for his pitches, despite finishing with a decent start.
The righty has hit a bit of a rough patch through his last handful of starts, struggling with command of his fastball throughout the stretch. While he has mentioned the tempo of his mechanics being a part of the problem, it didn’t seem to be the issue against Cleveland.
His struggles in the fourth were much worse than any other inning, but he missed more location than when he was clicking. And although it might seem like Porcello is regressing, it’s the opposite. What we’re now seeing is what Porcello is like when he’s off -- he’s still a good pitcher.
Power starters aren’t a problem for Boston’s offense either.
With the development of power-armed bullpens, Boston hitters have done their best to jump on starters early in the count. That way they extend starters’ outings, minimizing the opposing bullpen’s impact on the game.
The Red Sox did the opposite against Danny Salazar and his upper 90s fastball. They saw five or more pitches in 11 of their 24 plate appearances, forcing him to throw 108 pitches over just 4.1 innings. Red Sox hitters have knocked out their fair share of starting pitchers early, but to force over 100 pitches in such a short start displays how they approach power starters.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts cannot be stopped.
Bogaerts appears to have reached the point in his hitting streak where every pitch looks like a beach ball. He continues to set the tone with his multi-hit performances. Bradley’s opportunities, on the other hand, continue to shrink. Having Travis Shaw and Blake Swihart behind him should help, but it seems like there aren’t pitchers lining up to be on his extensive list.
Boston fans are buying into Porcello
A deal that first seemed to be the biggest mistake in Ben Cherrington’s reign as general manager has finally gotten the stamp of approval from Red Sox fans. After John Farrell pulled him in the sixth, Porcello received a standing ovation from Boston’s fans.
Yes, he had to work through a start where he was off. And yes, he did maintain Boston’s lead after the second inning. But a year ago that standing ovation would’ve had a little bit of a sarcastic tone to it, as opposed to the praise he received Sunday.
Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar.