Last night, the Red Sox punched Trevor Bauer and Cleveland in the mouth early in the first inning, and the Indians punched them right back. Unfortunately, the Red Sox were not able to recover after Rick Porcello allowed three home runs in the third inning to Roberto Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor. While the Red Sox were vying for a comeback in the later innings of this game, Terry Francona turned to former Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller, who threw two scoreless innings and matched his season-high in innings pitched, in unconventional ways.
Cody Allen came in to the game in the eighth inning, as Tito against asked the world from his bullpen. Similarly to Miller, Allen threw a season-high in pitches, and recorded his first five-out save of the season.
The biggest stories of the game were the mediocrity of Rick Porcello and the Red Sox' inability to lay off of off speed pitches in the dirt. First, lets talk about Porcello. At the start of the game, I thought we may see why many are predicting Rick Porcello to win the Cy Young award this season. Unfortunately, these feelings were short lived, as Porcello relinquished a run in the second inning, then three solo shots in the third inning to give the Indians a lead that they would never recover.
This is Porcello's shortest outing of the year and we now have to look at his postseason numbers in the same light as David Price. In nine games pitched in the postseason (20.2 innings), Porcello has a 5.56 ERA and has allowed 10.5 hits per nine innings. Porcello simply could not keep the ball down low in the strike zone. As a major league starting pitcher, it is okay to miss your spots. Most of the time, you should be missing because you are trying to paint the ball on the corners, especially against a great offense in the Cleveland Indians. However, you cannot leave the ball up. With a sinker ball pitcher like Porcello on the mound, if the ball is high, then it will fly.
After 4.1 innings, John Farrell looked towards his bullpen and called upon reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever Drew Pomeranz. While the former San Diego Padre relinquished three hits in 2.1 innings, he did not allow a run and struck out five Indians. Along with some of the positional players, Pomeranz was my top performer in last night's game. Farrell asked a lot out of him and Pomeranz was essentially the reason they were still in this game. Additionally, the bullpen as a whole, which was arguably the biggest question mark heading into the postseason, was phenomenal. In 3.2 innings, the Red Sox bullpen gave up only four hits, while striking out six batters.
Offensively, the Red Sox had to do something almost every half inning to keep them in the ballgame. Simply put, the young guys did not contribute offensively. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. combined to go 0-11 with seven (!) strikeouts. That is NOT going to cut it if this team wants to threaten to not win the World Series, but rather just get out of the divisional round. I have heard people talk about benching Bogaerts and Bradley, but I don't think I am quite ready for that. Sure, if the Red Sox wanted to get Travis Shaw in the lineup (He is batting .364 against Corey Kluber), I would not be upset if they threw Brock Holt in the outfield and benched Jackie Bradley, but I am not willing to give up on Bogaerts quite yet. He has had a terrible second-half, but he is also the American League All-Star starting shortstop. You have to stick with him at this point. If you bench him, you might as well just trade him in the offseason.
A few bright spots for this offense was the play of Hanley Ramirez, Brock Holt, and Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi and Holt contributed home runs, while Hanley Ramirez was ripping doubles all over the field, as well as playing an elite level of defense at first base.
Now, its time to look at today's game. David Price and his 2-7 record and 5.12 postseason ERA will be going up against Cleveland's ace in Corey Kluber. Kluber has been suffering from a groin injury that sidelined him for the final week of the regular season, but don't expect to see many lingering side effects. The Red Sox have the luxury of not having to worry about Andrew Miller and Cody Allen for multiple innings in this game, but getting the lead early for our $217 million man is key.
Keep the faith.