The Red Sox are about to get underway in the series finale in Tampa, but last night’s game was a glimmer of hope in a month that hasn’t provided much.
Quietly, Rick Porcello has been the Red Sox’s most reliable starting pitcher outside of Steven Wright. It’s his own fault, really. I’ve made this point before, but Boston is big on first impressions. It’s why nobody recognizes that Robbie Ross Jr. has the second lowest opponents batting average on the team behind Craig Kimbrel. If you suck when you first get here, then you just suck in the eyes of the fans for the rest of your stay, regardless of what you do the rest of the way, outside of winning a championship. Kind of like John Lackey. I feel like this has also affected the perception of Porcello.
Porcello had a very forgettable start to his Red Sox career, starting off 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA, and allowing 20 home runs in 20 starts. He then went on the disabled list with a tricep injury, and returned on August 26. Since his return from the disabled list, he’s now made 24 starts and has an ERA of 3.55, allowing 2.58 earned runs per game over that span. That’s exactly what the Red Sox signed up for — a three and a half ERA guy. He’s not paid like that, but those were the expectations, and when healthy, he’s delivered.
Have yourself a night, Travis Shaw. The Mayor of Ding Dong City returned to office last night, launching the second longest home run by a Red Sox hitter this season. He went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double, a single, and 5 RBI. After a prolonged slump over the last month or so, Shaw is hitting .318 with an .865 OPS over his last 8 games. With Chris Young, the team’s hottest hitter at the time of his injury, on the disabled list with an injury that the Red Sox are now describing as being more serious than previously anticipated, Xander Bogaerts scuffling lately due to a lack of rest, and Jackie Bradley hitting .216 since his 29-game hitting streak ended on May 26, the Red Sox have needed a guy like Shaw to step up. Each of those three aforementioned players have carried the Red Sox offense at one point or another during this season, and now it’s somebody else’s turn.
The belief is that if the Red Sox had been swept in this three-game series in Tampa that John Farrell’s seat would’ve been the hottest that it’s been at any point in his Red Sox managerial tenure. It’s my belief that firing the manager right now doesn’t really solve any of the major problems that they have. Now, that being said, I still think he’s a well below average in-game manager. However, I don’t think that winning one game against a team like Tampa should calm any of the hot seat talk. It’s borderline pathetic to say this, but one of the biggest starts of David Price’s Red Sox career is going to come against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team who had lost 11 consecutive games coming into this series. The Red Sox can’t lose this series. Not with their ace on the mound in the rubber game.
Final score: Red Sox 8, Rays 2