BOSTON (CBS) — The bullpen was supposed to be the issue for the Boston Red Sox this season, not their starting pitching. But their starters failed them big time in their opening series in Seattle, sporting a 13.20 ERA over the four-game set.

With Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello each failing to give them anything close to a quality outing on the hill, the Sox dropped three of their first four games to open the 2019 season. Boston got just 15 innings of work between their quartet of starters, with the Mariners lighting them up for 22 earned runs (and 28 runs total) while clubbing eight homers.

Sale lasted just three innings on Opening Day, surrendering seven runs and three homers. Eovaldi was only slightly better Friday night, allowing his six runs over five innings (on three homers as well) in a 7-6 Red Sox comeback win. But Rodriguez could only give Boston 4.1 innings of work on Saturday, allowing five earned in the process, and Porcello was the worst of the bunch on Sunday, going just 2.2 innings while allowing nine runs, though only four were earned.

The Boston offense gave Porcello a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on Sunday, but he gave up two runs in the bottom of the second following a two-out walk. The righty then surrendered seven runs (only four earned) in a disastrous third inning. The frame included three of the four walks issued by Porcello and a three-run homer by Omar Narvaez.

“Not good baseball,” Boston manager Alex Cora said after Sunday’s 10-8 loss. “We didn’t get any innings from the starters, and that’s hard to do. The only thing positive about the weekend is the bullpen. They did an outstanding job. Although offensively we scored runs, we left a lot of people out there. Defensively, we didn’t play well. We have to move on.”

Boston’s starting rotation was supposed to be their strength heading into the new season, but certainly didn’t inspire much faith with a dreadful opening series in Seattle. After their lengthy postseason run last October, the Red Sox gave their starters a lighter workload throughout the spring. Some have started to question whether or not that was the best plan, given how things have started to the new season. Cora shot that criticism down quickly, saying the team employed the same plan ahead of last season, and that worked out pretty darn well.

And the skipper didn’t sound too concerned about his rotation’s rocky start following Sunday’s loss.

“Whoever is doubting us, check what happened last year,” Cora said. “We did the same thing. It’s easy to second guess now. It’s a program. You have to be disciplined. So that’s the way I see it. If people think they didn’t start too many games or they went too many innings, they should go back to what we did last year in spring training. We played until October 28.”

Cora’s players aren’t fretting about the rotation, either.

“Look at guys’ track records and what they’re doing. That speaks for itself,”Boston slugger J.D. Martinez said after Sunday’s loss. “Really not concerned about it. Those are the same guys that did it last year. What we kind of just saw was four consecutive bad outings, so to me I’m expecting there are going to be four consecutive great outings.”

David Price will try to salvage Boston’s first turn through their rotation Monday night when he gets to the ball to start a four-game series against the Athletics in Oakland.

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