I had tickets to last nights game at Fenway. To be honest, despite the fact that the Sox have been playing very well, I was not all that excited about going to see Rick Porcello on the bump. I mean he has been really getting waxed most of the year and there was no reason to think that it would not continue.
Rick Porcello has pitched like a deer in the headlights; entering Wednesday nights game versus the Marlins with a 4-9 mark and a 6.08 ERA. He’d surrendered 16 homers in 95 innings.
However, Tuesday morning I was listening to WEEI and I caught their segment with Curt Schilling. John Dennis, who courageously and quite publically has confronted some defining moments of his own, asked a very insightful question. “Schil…..Is it possible that tonight is a career defining moment for Porcello?” Dennis added the caveat that it was not a big game in the post season sense or even in a “gotta have it” sense. But……
Schilling responded; “Many of my defining moments came within games…….Nobody even knew about them…….I drew on them throughout my career.” He then added “This is as much pressure as there is……he’ll put it on himself.” Upon further review……I was now looking forward to my Wednesday night trip to Fenway.
John Hancock Towers; old and new.
So I made my way in. It was a solo flight as big bro had lots of work to do preparing for his move (That’s another story for another day). I found a meter on Bay State Road and headed over the Brookline Ave Bridge.
The Hancock brothers from the haaaaaht of Kenmore Square.
Jumped in a little early,
grabbed some BP
Frank’s first trip to Fenway was in 1949 when he saw Mike Garcia of the Indians pitch against Mel Parnell. His uncle, who had just returned from the Navy, brought him to his first ever game.
A retired Boston cop, Frank has been working at Fenway for 10 years and his greatest thrill was an afternoon spent sitting with Johnny Pesky, a boyhood hero, talking about the greatest of games played in this the greatest park.
I walked through the guts of Fenway, which I have not done in quite some time and reminded myself that this lovely ballpark is, in and of itself, also a museum.
The walkway up to a bleacher section pays tribute to a speech made at Fenway by FDR in November of 1944. It was his last ever campaign speech.
The game began and my focus was on Porcello as I wanted to see how he would respond to the pressure, self imposed or otherwise.
He struggled with his command early but made a few pitches when he had to and with some defensive help got through three innings without giving up a run.
A Marlins error and a two run rocket shot into the Monster seats by Ortiz, gave Porcello and the Sox a 4-0 lead. It all looked good, until……It wasn’t!
In the fourth, he was bombarded with five straight hard hit singles and just like that it was 4-2 the bases loaded and one out. A nice play by Sandoval at third led to a force out at home and then Porcello himself ended the inning with a nice play on a hard comebacker. It was in this inning where Porcello’s defining moment may have come.
Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis visited Porcello in the fourth inning with the bses jammed and one out. He had just surrendered five straight hard hit singles and the Marlins had cut the lead in half to 4-2.
Following this visit, Porcello set down eight straight Marlin hitters. EIGHT STRAIGHT! He did it by finding great command of a curve ball which had been non competitive and a slider which he used for consecutive swinging strikeouts on the last two hitters he faced in the sixth.
Now I’m not foolish enough to think that all is well inside the heart and mind of Rick Porcello. There’s a long way to go and the Marlins without Giancarlo Stanton are an abysmal hitting group.
Last night he battled through a situation which, throughout this year has been an albatross.
Did he find within a defining moment which he can call upon down the road? Only he and he alone can answer that question……
But the Sox have won nine of 11 and the Yanks are coming. I like the feel of that!
And so it is on this day in history, Porcello defining time, July 9, 2015