Two steps forward, one step back.
After coming from behind to beat Toronto and then handling the Orioles (the first win by a Boston starter this season), the Red Sox and Rick Porcello had a chance for a three-game winning streak and a return to normalcy Saturday at Fenway.
But Porcello failed. The bullpen failed. Even Chris Davis had three hits as the Sox fell to 5-10.
Porcello lasted four-plus innings, walked five, yielded three runs and saw his ERA DROP to 11.12 after three starts.
It’s not too early to point out that this is an odd-number year for Porcello, whose contract is up at the end of this season.
The pattern is there during his Red Sox career: 9-15 in 2015, 22-4 and the Cy Young Award in ’16, 11-17 in ’17 and 17-7 in ’18 – 39-11 in the good years and 20-32 in the bad.
Now, in ’19 he’s 0-3 – 22 hits and 12 walks (9.5 walks per nine innings for a guy who has averaged just 2.2 per nine in his career) in 11-1/3 innings.
Red Sox starters are now 1-9 in 15 games – and it took until May 8 of last year before the eventual champions lost their 10th game of the season.
Saturday’s game also featured the end of a streak. While Khris Davis of Oakland had already reached 10 homers, Chris Davis of Baltimore got his first hit since Sept. 14 in the first inning. The two-run single off Porcello ended the 0-for-33 for this season and an MLB-record 0-for-54 (0-for-62 plate appearances). Davis asked for the ball as his teammates cheered wildly from the dugout.
But he wasn’t done – three hits and four RBIs; and the batting average all the way up to .079.
Before Saturday’s game, Alex Cora said he expects Andrew Benintendi to hit leadoff throughout the season – ending the early switching with Mookie Betts in the 1-2 spots.
“I think this is the lineup we’re going to run all the way to the end,” Cora said.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who started and won Friday night, said a week of work with Pedro Martinez helped get him straight.
“I was throwing the ball a little stuck. I was feeling a little stuck in my upper body,” Rodriguez said. “Then I changed it to get more smooth and move my body in a pretty good rhythm. I was feeling really good in the bullpen on those days and I threw it in the game today and felt really good.”
It paid quick dividends.
“As soon as I got in the game and saw the first pitch was 94 or 95 mph, I had my fastball and was in command,” Rodriguez said. “I started throwing a lot more and was feeling really good.”
Seeing Rob Gronkowski on the field celebrating Opening Day with the Red Sox Tuesday had to further delay the horribly inevitable in the minds of the Patriots fans. But for now, at least, the big fella has retired and the Pats signed journeyman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
From Glen Farley of the Brockton Enterprise: “Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ addition may lessen the #Patriots need at the tight-end position, but it sure doesn’t eliminate it. He’s been productive in the pass-catching game but is now with his fourth team since entering the league in 2014 and spent most of 2018 on IR.”
Farewell week in the NBA, with Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki saying goodbye with one more memorable performance. While LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were on hand in Brooklyn for Wade’s finale, Nowitzki was asked for the five players he’s admired most – and Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Detlef Schrempf and Shawn Kemp were among those on hand as he retired post-game.
Bill Belichick met the media for a pre-draft thing the other day. As far as the openings on his coaching staff, Belichick said, “I mean, we’re not talking about an unprecedented event here. Yeah, we’ve dealt with changes before. We’ll continue to deal with them.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is talking about shortening the regular season for his league, plus mid- or postseason tournaments designed to deter teams from tanking. “Assuming guys are going to play 82 games, maybe there should be a certain number of games in the regular season, and then there should be two tournaments throughout the season,” he said.
Dennis Eckersley via Twitter: “Where would we be without Mitch Moreland?”
Have to admit – no interest in the Masters; until I heard Tiger was playing well.
Alex Cora and Charlie Montoyo became the first Puerto Rican managers ever to face each other in a major league game Tuesday. No word on whether the president was invited to throw out the first … paper towels?
The re-signing of K Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi to tweet, “Update: the #Patriots are spending nearly 18 million dollars on special team only/primary ST guys and just 11.5 mil on receivers.”
Shameless plug for my alma mater, Wichita State, from the LA Clippers: “Only two rookies in NBA history have shot better than 42% from deep and hit 160+ threes: Steph Curry and Landry Shamet.”
As a rookie, Ivan Nova had his first suits bought for him for team travel by veteran teammate CC Sabathia. Saturday, they faced each other at Yankee Stadium. Nova, now with the White Sox, said since Sabathia’s gesture he’s done the same thing for younger players.
Among the rule changes the new XFL will introduce is the chance for a team to go for THREE points after a touchdown – with the ball set at the 10. “We literally have a nine-point touchdown,” commissioner Oliver Luck said.
Allen Craig, acquired by the Sox in the John Lackey deal and then played just 65 games for Boston, officially retired and joined the Padres’ front office.
From NESN’s Zack Cox on the coming draft: The Lions (No. 8 overall) and Seahawks (No. 21) are “aggressively looking” to trade down in this year’s draft. It’ll be interesting to see if the Patriots try to move up (maybe to Seattle’s spot?) to nab one of the top two TEs.”
Nice to hear Sean McDonough back on the air in Boston. Working radio when Rowdy Tellez hit what was called a 505-foot home run, the shiny-domed McDonough cracked, “If that was 505 I’m doing shampoo commercials.”
Joe Pavelski, always known for his ability to score in the so-called dirty areas, registered the first goal of the San Jose-Vegas series when a shot from the point banked in off his chin. He went straight to the locker room for repairs and returned. Of course he did!
Too many teams to name – as in the number of clubs that need Craig Kimbrel. It is ridiculous the man doesn’t have a job.
Len Dykstra has filed suit against former teammate Ron Darling over Darling’s assertions in his book that Dysktra shouted racial insults at Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd prior to the start of Game 3 of the ‘86 World Series. The Can said he didn’t hear anything but in the book we did together he did admit to being distracted, including doing cocaine all night the night before.
Kyrie Irving on the start of the playoffs Sunday afternoon at TD Garden: “It’s just like everything is about the true essence of basketball. Nothing else about the drama or extracurricular stuff. I’m excited to be focused on the game and actually talk about basketball instead of sensationalism.”
Mega agent Scott Boras isn’t a big fan of all these contract extensions being signed by young players. “Great, young players are getting what I call ‘snuff contracts,’” he said. “And a snuff contract is that they’re trying to snuff out the market. They know the player is a great player, and he’s exhibited very little performance. So they’re coming to him at 20 and 21, and ‘I’m going to snuff out your ability to move, to go anywhere, to do anything, and your value. And I’m going to pay you maybe 40 cents on the dollar to do it.’ What’s my risk?”
The Yankees came in as Forbes’ most-valuable MLB franchise, at $4.6 billion. The Dodgers were second at $3.3 and the Red Sox third at 3.2.
Prior to blowing a three-goal lead and losing the playoff opener – and then also losing Game 2, both at home – the Lightning had been 39-2-2 when leading after two periods.
The president ended the historic deal with Cuba that allowed their athletes to come to the states legally. From ESPN’s Jeff Passan: “The thrust of the government’s argument, as laid out in a letter from Treasury Dept. to MLB obtained by ESPN: ‘A payment to the Cuban Baseball Federation is a payment to the Cuban government.’ U.S. government sees the CBF as an arm of the Cuban government. Deal nixed accordingly.” Like we don’t do business with other unsuitable countries?
Tom Brady wasn’t at Fenway Tuesday but tweeted: “I want to congratulate the @RedSox for dropping ANOTHER Boston banner today. I couldn’t make it but I think a couple Super Bowl Champs were there to help out! @RobGronkowski @Edelman11 @BumpNrunGilmore”
Pat Riley to Wade as they hugged after Wade’s finale: “I want one more contract.”
To make things even tougher for the Lightning, star Nikita Kucherov has been suspended by the NHL for Game 3 for boarding Markus Nutivarra of the Blue Jackets Friday night.
From Friday’s Red Sox notes: “The Red Sox have never lost as many as 9 of their first 13 games and gone on to make the Postseason, but 14 teams in MLB history have done so, most recently the 2018 Dodgers (4-9) and 2013 Rays (4-9). 4 teams have lost 9+ of their first 13 games and gone on to win the World Series: the 1991 Twins, 1979 Pirates, 1935 Tigers, and 1914 Boston Braves. The 2001 A’s were the last team to lose 9+ of their first 13 games and go on to earn 100+ victories (started 3-10, finished 102-60).”
From our buddy Jim Donaldson, ex of the Providence Journal: Random Note: Bovada sports book has @Patriots at 7-1 to win #SuperBowl in 2019 season, same as @Chiefs. @nyjets are 80-1, @buffalobills are 100-1, & @MiamiDolphins are longest shot on the board at 125-1. Gotta like #Pats chances to win yet another AFC East title (11th straight).”
2011 Cup winner Tyler Seguin on returning to the playoffs after years of injury and failing to qualify: “I think the hunger is definitely there. Sitting on your couch in April so many years in a row, all the time, never felt good. You don’t like watching. You want to be playing. A lot of times in the first round, I’m not even watching. I’m pretty angry about the regular season. It’s nice to be playing and competing this year.”
Heat fans chanted “Paul Pierce bleeps” during Wade’s home finale.
Anthony Davis showed up for what was likely his last game as a Pelican wearing a T-shirt that read: “That’s all folks.” Later, he said he has his clothes laid out for him so he didn’t plan the wardrobe choice.
The Patriots had interest in Giants receiver Sterling Shepard before Shepard signed a new deal. Unlike Odell Beckham Jr., we assume the Giants are keeping Shepard.