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Despite The Loss, Rick Porcello Demonstrated Why He Has Become The Leader Of This Red Sox Rotation

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners

There are some who believe that this Red Sox rotation doesn’t have balls, that there isn’t a guy on that staff who has a bulldog mentality like Josh Beckett and John Lackey brought to the table years ago.

Gone are the days when there was a pitcher in that Red Sox rotation, who you had to rip the ball out of their hands at the end of their outing. Those who actually believe that are clearly not paying enough attention every fifth day when Rick Porcello takes the ball. This guy learned to eat shit and like it early on here in Boston. He didn’t sign here as a free agent; he was traded here by the Detroit Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes. And sure, the Red Sox threw a boatload of money at him to get him to stay beyond 2015, when he was set to become a free agent. But had Porcello duplicated in 2015 what he had done in 2014, you could argue that he would’ve made MORE as a free agent than he did with the contract extension he accepted from Boston.

He didn’t choose to come here, but he chose to stay here. And he made that decision before he even threw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform. Of course, the beginning to his Red Sox tenure did not go as he, or the team, had planned, pitching his way to a 5.81 ERA through his first 20 starts, and ending up on the disabled list with a tricep injury. Since returning from the disabled list on August 26 last year, Porcello is 18-7 with a 3.37 ERA, and 176 strikeouts in 200.1 innings. Red Sox fans were quick to write this guy off. They were wrong. When healthy, Porcello has been everything that Ben Cherington hoped that he would be, and probably even a little bit more. It was a huge talking point last year, but I don’t think I’ve heard one single person bring up his contract this year.

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But let’s talk about that bulldog mentality thing for a second. Not many pitchers have it. Not every pitcher needs it, either. But I believe every staff needs at least one guy who can lead by example. Someone who believes in their own ability so much that they’ll fist fight their own manager before they give up the ball in a situation where they know they can still help their team. I saw that from Porcello last night.

Porcello

After seven innings, Porcello had thrown 103 pitches, while allowing three earned runs on three hits — all solo home runs. Over 100 pitches, quality start, close game, all the usual indicators that a starting pitcher’s night is finished. As you can see above, it looked like Porcello was adamant about coming back out for the eighth inning. Manager John Farrell seemed to oppose this sentiment at first, but Porcello obviously convinced his manager, because he did, in fact, come out for the eighth inning, and put up a scoreless frame in the process.

Think about it. Can you picture any other pitcher on this Red Sox team doing that? Not only having the balls to just ask your manager, but TELL them that you’re coming back out for the eighth. And not just come out for the eighth inning, but put up a scoreless inning in convincing fashion. Who else can you see doing something like that? The answer is nobody. Nobody else on this Red Sox team has the balls to do something like that, and then back it up.

The Red Sox would go on to lose this game, but it was not due to a lack of effort from Porcello. Andrew Benintendi collected his first major league hit, and his second major league hit, representing the only player in the Red Sox lineup with more than one hit. Boston went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base in their loss, which bumped them out of a playoff spot for the first time since May. They’re now a half-game back of the Detroit Tigers for the second Wild Card spot, and three games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

Final score: Mariners 3, Red Sox 1