PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Everything was going smoothly for Rick Porcello. The Red Sox right-hander had just retired the first two Rays hitters in the second inning of Sunday's game and was on his way to a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Then in the blink of an eye, that all changed. Porcello allowed seven straight hits and finished the frame by giving up six runs. The Rays didn't stop there. With two outs in the third inning, Hank Conger launched a towering two-run home run to right field that gave Tampa Bay an 8-1 lead on their way to a 13-5 win over Boston.
Porcello finished the day allowing eight runs on 10 hits in three innings. Only one Rays starter didn't have a hit off of the right-hander.
"I don't like the line, but it's a work in progress, and clearly I'm not where I want to be yet," Porcello said. "It doesn't look that good, but I feel like I'm improving."
"I have to go back, look at the video and really assess what happened. Then, if I need to make adjustments, I'll do that. It looks like I'm on the right track. It's one of those Spring Training starts. I'll leave it at that. I just have to go back, reanalyze and see what happened."
In one other outing this spring, on March 3 against the Twins, Porcello allowed three hits in two innings.
The right-hander felt like his curveball and changeup were better in Sunday's start, and that he had good action on most of his pitches. However, elevated fastballs proved to be his undoing.
"The results weren't very good. They hit mistakes. Really, the thing that felt most important to me was that I was throwing strikes early," Porcello said. "Really, I didn't feel like I was leaving the ball waist high or up. I have to get the ball down a little bit further."
While the Red Sox contemplated taking Porcello out after the second inning, manager John Farrell felt that it was necessary for the right-hander to stay on the hill.
"We talked about it, and in the regular season, it would be a different story, but we're just trying to get his pitch total up and get his arm strength going," Farrell said. "That's what you have to balance in a game like today."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.