CLEVELAND -- Boston Red Sox ace Rick Porcello has not started a postseason game at the Major League level since 2011, when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers, but all that will change when he takes the mound at Progressive Field tonight.
After winning 22 games during the regular season and leading the Red Sox to the American League East Division Championship, Porcello will start Game 1 of the A.L. Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, winners of the Central.
“Definitely very excited for Game 1,” Porcello said. “Having the three days off and a little bit of that lull there, we're going to be chomping at the bit to get back out there and start playing again.
“As far as the Indians go, it's a good ball club. They're very well balanced. They have some guys that can run. Definitely have some power threats, some really good left-handed hitting, especially at the top of the order. And you've got to be on your game. You've got to execute pitches. That's a team that they're not going to extend much. They take their walks. They do a lot of little things right, so that poses a lot of challenges.”
According to Porcello, the key for him to have success is “establishing strike 1 and go from there.”
“I think just maintaining the focus that I've had,” Porcello said. “It's continuing to focus on my delivery and make sure that that's always there and that's always sound, and that's what I've been doing this past week.
“Other than that, though, it's going out there and executing pitches and controlling the game and the tempo of the game, being able to take my blend of pitches, and then, trying to attack their weaknesses with it. That's what I've been trying to do all year, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.”
In eight postseason appearances, all of which came with the Tigers from 2011 to 2013, Porcello has allowed 10 runs, including eight earned, and 18 hits over 16.1 innings of work.
After falling out of favor in Detroit and posting a 9-15 record with a 4.92 earned run average over 28 starts for Boston last year, Porcello found a groove in 2016, posting his best record (22-4), lowest ERA (3.15), most innings of work (223), highest strikeout total (189) and fewest walks allowed (32).
“There wasn't anything in particular that clicked for me,” Porcello said. “I think I was able to build some momentum this year, really. And that's, you know, gaining confidence and starting to see some of my game plans that I've been putting together, and seeing some of the different things that I've been doing work. And I kind of got to a point where it's just continuing to do that.”