Porcello left McCoy Stadium before the game ended and was not available for comment.
"Command-wise, a little bit off early," PawSox manager Kevin Boles said. "Left some pitches out over the plate. I thought they sped the game up on him, as far as controlling the running game, but he was able to settle in."
Before hitting the disabled list on Aug. 2, Porcello had posted a 5.81 ERA through 20 starts, the highest mark in baseball among qualified American League pitchers. In Detroit last season, the 26-year-old set career highs in wins (15), ERA (3.43) and innings (204 2/3) -- leading the Sox to offer him a four-year, $82.5 million extension before making his first start -- and it's no secret that using his sinker to generate ground-ball outs was a staple of that success.
Porcello induced eight groundouts on Friday, including a double play that erased a second-inning single, but he still experienced times when those fastballs wandered into the upper parts of the strike zone. More promising was the righty's use of his changeup, which opposing hitters swung and missed on a number of times in the outing.
"Obviously they want to see the sink to the fastball. That's what he's known for," Boles said, "but I thought the changeup was a weapon for him. He had a few swings and misses with it. That was pretty good hand-speed. Quick hand, quick arm, and I thought he did a real nice job getting that into the mix."
Assuming the original plan remains the same, Porcello will rejoin the the big league rotation next Wednesday in Chicago. When he does, the Red Sox hope the pitcher who was so dependable in Detroit will be the one making the trip.
"When he threw his sinker good, he can pitch like six, seven innings," catcher Sandy Leon said. "That's what he did today. The first inning was rough, and then after that, a lot of sinkers they hit first pitch."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.