PHOENIX — The Red Sox’ frustration has come to a boil, bubbled a little too long and, Friday night, spilled all over the place.
After a four-run inning that Rick Porcello didn’t particularly deserve — poor defense and some bad luck were partially to blame — the former Cy Young winner went into the dugout, calmly walked over to the big orange Gatorade cooler and then used two arms to heave it straight into the wall as it exploded like a shaken bottle of soda.
On the field, the Red Sox were imploding.
Porcello followed up one of the worst starts of his career with another stinker, allowing seven runs while the defense played flat-footed behind him, then Brian Johnson allowed seven more as the Sox were embarrassed by the Diamondbacks in a 15-8 loss.
It was perhaps the worst game yet in this 2-7 start.
“I don’t believe in the hangover,” manager Alex Cora said. “The only hangover is when you go out drinking and the next day you have a headache. We’ve all been there.”
Porcello blamed himself for the rough game and said he threw the Gatorade as a sign of “frustration stemming from” the ridiculous fourth inning, in which he allowed four runs, all earned. But Red Sox fielders had a chance to make a play on three different hits in that inning and didn’t convert any of them.
Mookie Betts knew it.
“A couple plays there — we have to find a way to make the play,” he said. “We didn’t do that throughout the game.”
The final pitcher for the Red Sox was infielder Eduardo Nunez, who estimated that he hadn’t pitched in about 20 years. And he did OK, allowing a solo homer in an inning of work.
Even in their moments of glory, the Red Sox look far from being themselves.
The continued lack of sharpness by most members of the pitching staff doesn’t look like it’s going to go away at the snap of Cora’s fingers.
The fundamentals the manager was preaching about Thursday were not on display, and defense was once again sloppy.
“I think it’s more that we didn’t pitch tonight,” Cora said.
The bats have shown moments of life, and that ought to give them some hope as the Sox look to their offense to carry them while the starting pitching works out a multitude of problems.
“Those last two or three innings were the hardest we’ve hit the ball all season,” Cora said. “That’s a positive.”
Porcello’s outing didn’t look that bad early on. He was getting a lot of weak contact, but it seemed like the fourth inning caused him to unravel.
Ketel Marte hit a mammoth homer with one out, Nick Ahmed doubled, Alex Avila walked, and then with Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley at the plate, Porcello allowed a little flare into right-center field that dropped in between three Red Sox fielders in center, right and second base. J.D. Martinez was the closest to it, but nobody dove at the ball, which dropped at Martinez’ feet for a single.
The very next play, Jarrod Dyson hit a weak line drive to second base that bounced off Brock Holt’s glove and rolled into the outfield for an RBI single.
And right after that there was another mistake, when Mitch Moreland couldn’t cleanly handle a routine grounder and had to settle for one out at first instead of trying for a double play.
The D’backs took a 5-1 lead but it must have felt even worse for Porcello, who lost his temper on the Gatorade cooler between innings, then nearly beat out an infield single at the plate in the top of the fifth.
“He was flying to first,” Cora said. “He was competing.”
Porcello departed in the fifth inning with seven runs to his name. He begins the season with a 13.50 ERA.
“Very frustrating,” he said. “I’m not doing my job right now. I don’t take that lightly. I’ll do whatever I can to get back on track this week and for my next one. This one’s on me. I take full responsibility for these first two starts, not throwing the ball the way I need to. I better turn it around quick.”
Red Sox starters have a 9.60 ERA through nine games, having allowed 16 homers in that span.
Johnson, who has looked strong in relief until Friday night, was hammered by the Diamondbacks for seven runs, including two homers, while recording just four outs.
It hardly mattered that the Sox scored seven runs the final two innings. The game simply wasn’t fun to watch or to play.
“I think we just need to go out and have fun again, just be the team we know we are, have some fun and relax a little bit,” said catcher Blake Swihart, hitting .500 to start the year. “We’re trying a little too hard. We just need to go out there and play baseball.”
Cora isn’t going to invent some new style of managing just because his team is off to a horrendous start.
“I’m not going to change,” he said. “I’m the same guy. For how great it was last year, I understand what the big league season is. You have your ups and downs. Have to stay calm. The same way we did things last year, we’re going to do it again.
“At one point we’re going to get hot and start playing good baseball and when we look back, we’re going to be like, ‘That wasn’t fun. That wasn’t fun baseball.’ But we’re going to be OK.”
Don’t blame the manager for the awful start, Betts said.
“It’s definitely not him,” Betts said. “It’s us. Our heads aren’t in it in some situations. A couple tough bounces, it’s just a part of the game. We have to play better for sure.”