Red Sox starter Rick Porcello dominates Yankees lineup

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 07: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Fenway Park, on April 7, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 07: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Fenway Park, on April 7, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello shut down a deep New York Yankees lineup to win his third game of the season.

Not even Mother Nature can stop Rick Porcello. The right-hander for the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees Thursday night despite having his outing interrupted by a lengthy rain delay.

Ricky Raindrops carried a no-hitter through five innings before the tarp came out to cover the field. The game had gone deep enough to be considered official by that point and the Red Sox had the lead. As the rain continued to pour over Fenway we wondered if the umpires would call it. That would have deprived the Yankees of any comeback attempt. It also would have cost Porcello his shot at glory.

The game resumed about 45 minutes later. A lengthy delay will often send a pitcher to the showers but not this time. Porcello came back out for the sixth to retire the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.

Aaron Judge broke up the no-hit bid with a double to lead off the seventh inning. Giancarlo Stanton followed with an infield single but Porcello battled back to escape the jam by retiring the next three hitters. With a comfortable lead and the no-hitter off the table, Porcello’s night was over.

His line for the night: 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 HBP, 6 strikeouts.

It was the most impressive outing of the young season for Porcello when factoring in the level of competition. Perhaps the most impressive outing by any Red Sox pitcher. That’s saying something for a rotation that owns a collective 2.01 ERA this season.

Porcello tamed a lethal Yankees lineup by painting the corners and keeping hitters off balance by mixing his pitches. He threw 69 of 99 pitches for strikes, at least according to the box score. The home plate umpire’s wildly inconsistent strike zone may have cheated Porcello of a few strikes.

The approach Porcello took to facing a Yankees lineup stacked with power threats is worth noting. He threw his fastball a season-low 40.4 percent of the time, per FanGraphs. His FB% dipped that low only once last season. He delivered his slider a whopping 32.3 percent of the time, doubling last year’s average. He’s also throwing more changeups this year, tossing the pitch 20% of the time against New York. Porcello still mixes in a curveball as well, although he’s been less reliant on it so far this year.

The gameplan has been different from what we saw last year and so have the results. Porcello has won all three of his starts this season to lead the majors in wins. His 1.83 ERA ranks 8th in the American League among pitchers who have made at least three starts. His 0.76 WHIP is seventh best.

Porcello continues to be brilliant on the mound when he gets a little help from his friends. He’s received at least three runs of support in each outing this season. In his last 34 starts with 3+ runs of support, Porcello is 29-0 with a 3.16 ERA.

There were plenty of occasions where Porcello was lit up last year, leading to one of the worst seasons of his career. However, he didn’t receive much run support in those outings so the Red Sox probably wouldn’t have won anyway. As long as his lineup does their part to keep him in the game, Porcello has been about as good as it gets over the last three seasons.

The Red Sox took two out of three against the Yankees at Fenway this week. They own the best record in the AL and have opened a five-game lead over New York in the loss column.

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If there was any skepticism over Porcello’s strong start due to facing the light-hitting Tampa Bay Rays his first two turns through the rotation, the right-hander put that to rest with his dominant effort against the Yankees.