The Boston Red Sox rotation keeps rolling along, this time behind a quality start from Rick Porcello against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Boston Red Sox opened the season with seven consecutive games in which their starting pitcher allowed one run or less. That streak came to an end when Rick Porcello gave up a pair of runs in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was inevitable that this historic stretch would eventually end. Boston’s rotation had already set an MLB record with this dominant streak. Red Sox starters entered the day with a collective 0.86 ERA, the best mark by any team’s rotation since the Atlanta Braves in 1993.
That ERA will go up a bit after Porcello’s start but not by much. The right-hander still produced a quality start, going 7 1/3 innings while allowing three runs on six hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven.
The game began with Porcello’s history of first-inning struggles rearing its ugly head. He allowed a base hit to two of the first three batters he faced. That was followed by a two-run double by nemesis Brad Miller, who entered the day hitting .275 with a 1.060 OPS, five home runs and nine RBI against Porcello.
Porcello overcame the early rough patch to settle into a groove. After giving up a harmless single with one out in the second inning, Porcello retired the next 17 batters he faced.
His day probably should have ended after seven innings with the Red Sox leading by eight runs. Manager Alex Cora made the questionable decision to send Porcello back out to begin the eighth. The move backfired as Porcello immediately gave up a double to No. 8 hitter Joey Wendle. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to ground out to shortstop but Denard Span followed with an RBI base hit to center.
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The final line on Porcello still counts as a quality start yet it would have looked a lot better if he went seven innings with only two runs allowed.
More importantly, Porcello earned a win, his second of the season. He’s now 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA through two starts. He has struck out 11 and only walked one. Both starts have come against the light-hitting Rays but it’s still an encouraging sign for the 2016 Cy Young winner coming off a disappointing campaign.
Boston has now won 22 consecutive games dating back to 2016 when Porcello receives 3+ runs of support.
The Red Sox move to 7-1, matching the best start to a season in franchise history. The last time Boston won seven of their first eight games was in 1920.
The competition will increase starting next week when the New York Yankees come to town. Red Sox pitching won’t stay quite this dominant but it’s been an incredible run to begin the season that has helped this team build a fairly comfortable cushion at the top of the AL East.