BOSTON -- In his near three seasons as manager of the Red Sox, there haven't been many occasions when John Farrell seemed as perturbed in a postgame news conference as he was following Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the White Sox.
It wasn't because of one game, but because of the last three -- and the recurring theme. Quite simply, Boston's starting pitchers haven't even been competitive in this series, compiling just 11 innings while giving up 27 hits and 16 earned runs.
"Yeah, we've been slapped in the face right from the get-go three consecutive nights," said Farrell. "We've found ourselves down multiple runs early in the ballgame. Bottom line is we've got to do a better job of pitching, and that's not focusing on the starters. That's focusing on everyone. Guys are capable of more and we need to be better."'
Rick Porcello had been better in his three starts leading up to Wednesday. But the righty bottomed out in this one, producing one of the worst starts of his career.
Three batters into the third inning, and with nobody out, Porcello was removed from the game, the Red Sox down 6-0 at the time.
Over two-plus innings, Porcello was tagged for 10 hits. It was the first time a Boston starter has allowed 10 hits in two innings or fewer since John Tudor on April 28, 1982.
"I had a bad game," said Porcello. "I elevated some pitches. I fell behind some guys. A couple of walks with some runners on base put guys in tough spots, and I didn't recover."
Porcello is 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA.
"Even when he got ahead, there was the inability to put guys ahead after he got ahead 0-2, 1-2," said Farrell. "I thought there were a number of pitches that were elevated in the strike zone. When he made a mistake, as hot as they're swinging the bat right now, he paid for it. It was just the inability to throw the ball in the bottom of the strike zone and be able to do what he's been good at, and that's put the ball on the ground. Particularly when you get into advantage counts for a pitcher, he just didn't have the ability to finish hitters and put guys away."
Much like Porcello, the Red Sox are struggling mightily. They are 44-58, which puts them 14 games back in the American League East and nine games back in the AL Wild Card standings.
The team had put together a mini-run just prior to the All-Star break, but has struggled since, losing 12 of the last 14.
"Like I said, overall, we have to pitch better," said Farrell. "That's a poor display, these three games."
The struggles of the pitching staff have overshadowed positive developments, like Mike Napoli finally getting hot after a tough start to the season. Napoli ripped a double and a homer on Wednesday.
"It's tough," said Napoli. "Just getting down early, trying to fight back. It's been a tough couple of days."
It isn't fun for the veteran players on the club who are used to being in the heart of the postseason race.
"It [stinks]," Napoli said. "Come here every day, work hard to go out there and try to execute as a team. We're not getting it done. It's not fun. You need to come in, keep playing hard, play the game the right way, and try to make things turn into good things, positive things on the field. We've just got to keep going."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.