After last night’s loss, the Philadelphia Phillies are an astounding 20 games under .500 here on June 13. With that in mind, trailing 4-0 to a team like that in the first inning and giving up five earned runs overall is actually bad, even more so when you’re the defending Cy Young award winner.
Last night, I tweeted that the Red Sox have a little bit of a Rick Porcello problem. I’m sure there are some Red Sox fans who came to that conclusion sooner than I did, and others who still think that things are all fine and dandy in regards to Porcello, but I gave him a longer leash than most because he earned that much last year. I’m not saying his season is a complete wash — it’s way too soon for a proclamation like that — but after last night? Yeah, I’ve got some concerns.
Someone had asked what about Porcello is different from last year. My response was that his sinker isn’t sinking like it used to. It’s pretty obvious, actually. A sinker is supposed to, you know, sink. Porcello’s sinker this year has more left to right movement than downward movement. It’s almost acting like a two-seamer. After last night, I was curious so I looked up the numbers and hooooly shit. Porcello has thrown 424 sinkers this year, and opponents are hitting .370 with a .602 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.000 when they see that pitch from him. Compare that to last year when opponents hit .269 with a .740 OPS against Porcello’s sinker, and yeah. We’ve discovered our problem.
I mean, think about that. He’s a friggin’ sinkerball pitcher with a sinkerball that hitters are seeing like a beachball. Seems problematic to me. It’s like being a sword fighter who goes into sword fights with a butter knife. How can you say that sword fighting is your specialty if that’s what you’re working with? It’s like applying to be a GQ model when you look like Pete Abraham. You just have to be better prepared than that.
And I hate to pin this on someone who I don’t actually know if it’s their fault or what they’re doing to help behind the scenes or whether or not they’re even aware of this issue, but how many times has there been a pitching-related problem during Carl Willis’ tenure that was later fixed by someone else? For example, Dustin Pedroia noticing the mechanical issue with David Price and the Red Sox pitching staff completely turning a corner after they hired Brian Bannister. How has somebody not noticed the flaw in Porcello’s sinker? Who knows, maybe they have and they’ve just been unsuccessful in correcting it? I don’t know. But that’s definitely something I’d ask if the Red Sox didn’t have some bullshit rule that prohibits Barstool from getting credentialed.
I had seen reactions after the game like, “Why are the Red Sox celebrating like that when it should never take 11 innings to beat a team that bad?” Well, I would much rather see the Red Sox win a game like they did last night than just take the Phillies to the woodshed for four games. We saw some things last night that we really needed to see that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise had the Red Sox not struggled out of the gate. The big one for me was Hanley Ramirez. On May 10, the Red Sox finally asked Hanley to play first base in Milwaukee and he left the game in the fourth inning with a trap spasm. Coming into last night, Hanley had been hitting .220 with a .699 OPS since that injury.
Over the weekend, I just threw it out there that the Red Sox should entertain the idea of putting Hanley on the disabled list, because I was under the impression that between the trap issue and his shoulder injury that’s prevented him from playing first base, that there was no way he was healthy and that this was affecting his performance at the plate. I suggested DL-ing Hanley and calling up Sam Travis to play some first base and you can DH Chris Young or have Mitch Moreland at first and Travis at DH. Then Hanley hits a game-tying bomb in the eighth inning, and I’m like, okay then. Guess you’re fine?
We also saw the good, the bad, and the ugly from Pablo Sandoval. He didn’t see his name appear on John Farrell’s lineup card for the third straight game, so there’s even more writing on the wall for you. They don’t want this guy, and it’s pretty obvious. But he found himself pinch hitting in the eighth inning during Boston’s late-inning rally and flew out to right on a weak fly ball. He made a nice play diving for a ball in the top of the ninth, but then booted another routine grounder for his fifth error of the season. He also represented the game-winning run when he started the bottom of the eleventh with a base hit before being lifted for a pinch runner.
One base hit doesn’t really change my stance that I want him off the team, though. He’s a defensive liability at third base, and I’m all set with having a $95 million platoon player on the bench. Just give me a third baseman who can actually field the position with moderate offense and I’m fine. I’m sure that talk will heat up soon with the trade deadline just over a month away.
Dustin Pedroia’s game-winning base hit into right field was his second hit of the night. His first was an absolute rocket off the Monster in the bottom of the ninth that more than likely would’ve been a walk-off homer in most other ballparks. It’s been three games since the Red Sox activated Pedroia off the disabled list, and although it’s a small sample size, it’s worth noting that he’s hitting .364 with a .974 OPS. Seems like he’s healthy to me.
Final score: Red Sox 6, Phillies 5 — 11 innings