After all, Shields had allowed 22 runs in his first 8.2 innings as a member of the Sox, and Porcello entered Thursday's play with an 8-2 record -- including a 6-0 mark at Fenway Park.
The Sox lost, 8-7 in 10 innings, but it had nothing to do with the Shields vs. Porcello matchup. Both men turned in mediocre starts and were gone before the sixth inning was over. Frankly, this Sox loss would have been easier to take if Shields had just gotten knocked around again.
Instead, the Sox squandered two leads and blew two golden chances to score with the bases loaded in the eighth and 10th innings, and it's impossible to feel like they shouldn't have come away with a four-game series sweep.
The Sox led, 4-1, in the sixth when Shields cracked. He departed after walking David Ortiz and Ryan LaMarre consecutively to start the inning. Matt Albers provided no relief, hitting a batter and loading the bases before giving up a pair of singles. One of the singles was of the infield variety, with Brett Lawrie making an errant throw that didn't help matters.
The Sox had to use a second reliever, Dan Jennings, who extricated the team from the mess, but not before Boston had surged in front, 5-4.
Jose Abreu answered for the South Siders, clubbing a three-run homer in the top of the seventh off Junichi Tazawa to give the Sox a 7-5 lead.
That would be short-lived, as Boston scored one in the seventh off Chris Beck and another in the eighth off Nate Jones to tie it at 7.
But the real issue for the Sox here was the inability to put the game away by taking advantage of prime scoring opportunities. The South Siders loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the eighth inning. But J.B. Shuck popped out to shallow left, Tim Anderson struck out swinging and Adam Eaton grounded out weakly to second base.
The failures kept the Sox lead at a meager one run (7-6), and Boston tied it off Jones in the bottom of the inning.
The same exact situation presented itself in the top of the 10th inning. Lawrie at third, Alex Avila at second, Avisail Garcia at first, bases loaded, no outs. Shuck popped out to shortstop. Anderson struck out swinging. Eaton struck out swinging. Once again, no runs, and a heaping pile of frustration.
In the bottom of the inning, Matt Purke lost the game. He walked two hitters and gave up a game-ending single to Xander Bogaerts.
At that point, it felt like Boston was finally putting the Sox out of their misery. They had their chances. They blew them, and Boston finally handed them the loss they deserved.
It's disappointing, because a four-game sweep of the Red Sox could have really built some momentum for the upcoming homestand against Toronto and Minnesota.
Instead, we're once again talking about an infuriating loss. We're once again talking about a sub-.500 Sox team (36-37), and we're looking at a team that is in fourth place, six games out of first.
On Monday, I think any Sox fan would have been more than happy with three out of four in Boston. From that perspective, it was a good series. But, in the bigger picture, it's still difficult to see a path to the playoffs for this deeply flawed Sox team.