Red Sox Rick Porcello Unravels 3 Homers For Cleveland

Sep 24, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) looks on from the dugout during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) looks on from the dugout during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boston Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, a potential Cy Young Award winner, gift-wrapped Game 1 of the ALDS for the Cleveland Indians by allowing 3 home runs.

Was it the new postseason hat?

Porcello was on a hot streak, coming into last night’s American League Division Series opener with 22 wins in the regular season. Red Sox Nation could not help but notice the sweat stains on his hat, but Porcello would continue wearing the same hat, start after start, never washing it.

Nothing should come in the way of a man’s winning streak, not even mass marketing products from the MLB front office.

Maybe superstitions are stupid. Maybe they don’t exist. Yet, something sure looked different about Porcello last night, and it wasn’t just his hat.

With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning, Cleveland rose to their feet as Porcello served up three solo home runs to Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor on a combined eleven pitches. Two of the three blasted pitches were 90-mph fastballs while the last one to Lindor was a changeup, each of them hanging over the plate to destroy.

Porcello’s night ended with a final line of just 4.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits, no walks, and six strikeouts.

It wasn’t like Porcello couldn’t find the strikezone either. Not that it troubled Cleveland at all. Porcello threw 72 pitches, 51 for strikes, and induced two groundouts to three flyouts. The six-foot-five veteran had a 3.15 ERA during the season; now, in one start, Porcello’s postseason career ERA stands at 10.38.

Not once had Porcello been given the hook so early in 2016. The earliest was in May in Kansas City, as the Royals put up five runs on eight hits and knocking Porcello out of the game without earning an out in the sixth frame.

The key to Porcello’s success this season had much to do with limiting the damage, so that the mighty Red Sox offense would take a lead and overwhelm the opposing pitcher. Even though Porcello gave up only two less home runs than he did in his disasterous 2015, he did it in 51 more innings. Even when he would give up a homer, Porcello didn’t have as many baserunners this season. His opposing batting average was .230, a definite improvement from the .287 that he posted last year.

The Red Sox tried to mount a comeback, but fell short 5-4. Porcello took the loss, making everyone in Boston a bit more nervous.

Next: Boston Red Sox: Five Keys To Winning The ALDS

Coming into the series, Cleveland’s pitching staff seemed to be their weakness, with a bunch of starters being injured. Porcello looked to be the clear favourite to dominate Game 1, with Game 2 and Game 3 being question marks. David Price‘s woes for the Toronto Blue Jays in their 2015 playoff run and Clay Buchholz‘s woes for the past three seasons, before making a comeback this year, were supposed to be bailed out by a strong performance from Boston’s ace of 2016. Instead, Red Sox Nation’s nervous grip on World Series hopes just got that much tighter.