BOSTON -- In three nights in Boston, the Chicago White Sox have hit 18 doubles, which is one more than David Ortiz has hit in 341 at-bats all season.
The White Sox hit seven doubles Monday night and seven more on Tuesday, matching in nine innings both nights what Hanley Ramirez has done in 90 games in 2015.
The White Sox have outscored the Boston Red Sox 11-2 just in the first innings of the past three games, and have scored eight runs or more each night, including Wednesday night's 9-2 win over Boston.
And on Thursday, the White Sox, with a chance to reach .500 for the first time since May 19, will send ace Chris Sale to the mound with a chance to extend a season-best winning streak to eight games.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had their scheduled Thursday starter, Steven Wright, warming up in the bullpen in the second inning after Rick Porcello was knocked around for six runs on 10 hits.
Wright will still start, manager John Farrell said after Wednesday's loss, but the Red Sox will need at least one fresh arm, and possibly two, after four Red Sox relievers were required to generate 21 outs Wednesday night.
"We've been slapped in the face right from the git-go three consecutive nights," Farrell said, whose voice was even but whose expression revealed his irritation after the team's 12th loss in the past 14 games.
"The bottom line is we've got to do a better job of pitching. That's not focusing on the starters, that's focusing on everyone. Guys are capable of more and we need to do better."
Porcello had appeared to be trending in that direction after his last start, one in which he limited his former team, the Tigers, to a run on five hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out six.
But for an encore, he delivered a performance that ranks among the worst in Sox history, a yield of 10 hits and six runs (five earned) in two innings. He gave up two home runs, walked a batter and hit another, and was behind from the game's first hitter, Adam Eaton, who took him deep.
Porcello has now given up 20 home runs, which equals the number of home runs Ortiz has hit this season, and is the most he has ever allowed in a full season. This one, of course, still has two months to go.
Only twice before in Sox history has a team inflicted as much damage on a Sox starter in so little time. On April 28, 1982, Peabody native John Tudor gave up 10 hits and eight runs in 1⅔ innings to the Kansas City Royals here.
On Sept. 2, 1935, also at Fenway Park, Wes Ferrell gave up 10 hits and seven runs in two innings to the Washington Senators, but by then Ferrell had already won 20 games en route to a career-high 25, so presumably the fans were willing to give him a pass.
Not so Porcello, who was booed repeatedly Wednesday night during his outing, the seventh time in 20 starts this season he has allowed five or more runs. Only two pitchers in the big leagues, Kyle Kendrick of the Rockies and Shane Greene of the Tigers, have had more such starts (eight), according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Porcello has lost all seven of those, and is 5-11 overall, with an earned run average of 5.81, all the more unsightly on the same day former Sox starter Jon Lester struck out 14 for the Cubs and Cole Hamels, the left-handed ace long linked to the Red Sox in trade speculation, was reportedly dealt to the Texas Rangers.
It is not lost on Boston's disgruntled fan base that if the Sox had not elected to give Porcello a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension in April, before he'd thrown a single pitch for the club, the Sox quite likely would have been exploring ways to unload Porcello, who would have been a free agent at the end of the season.
"Had a bad game, you know," Porcello said. "Elevated some pitches, fell behind some guys, couple of walks, put some runners on base, which put me in tough spots, and I couldn't recover."
Before the game, Farrell noted that while Joe Kelly will be allowed to make his next start, the Sox will soon recall left-handed rookie Brian Johnson and also have plans to promote left-hander Henry Owens. How soon that will be remains yet to be determined. But outings like this one will likely lead the Sox to act sooner than later.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington took a break from trade-related business to meet with Farrell after the game, presumably to update him on what might be happening on the trade front, as well as reviewing what options the Sox have in Pawtucket to address Thursday. Johnson pitched Tuesday and Owens on Wednesday, so neither will be available immediately.