Pannone's performance worth the journey

New England native takes seven-hour road trip to make start at Fenway

July 18th, 2019

BOSTON -- The trip from Buffalo to Boston should have been fairly quick for . A nonstop flight can get from city-to-city in around an hour-and-a-half. But the weather forecast had other plans on Wednesday, and torrential downpours halted airline travel.

Instead of hopping on a plane, Pannone took a seven-hour car ride and trekked over 450 miles to make his start against the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon.

“It gave me a good amount of time to really sit back and relax, think about what I was going to do here today,” Pannone said following the Blue Jays’ 5-0 loss.

Pannone’s original flight was scheduled to leave Buffalo on Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. Once that was cancelled, he attempted to get on a 10:30 p.m. flight. That plane, though, was fully booked. With limited options, the Blue Jays arranged for an SUV car service to drive Pannone to Massachusetts.

After spending four hours at the airport, Pannone got on the road to begin the long haul. He passed the time by going through his phone and chatting with the driver as they traveled state to state.

Growing up in nearby Rhode Island, Pannone had experienced New England summers firsthand many times. He wasn’t totally surprised when a mid-July rainstorm threatened to derail his plans.

“It was like the last thing I really wanted,” he said. “I know, I’ve seen summer storms pop up here and I know they get pretty brutal. It’s just Mother Nature, and you’ve just got to take it.”

Pannone arrived to his hotel in Boston around 4:00 a.m. He quickly went to bed, and managed to squeeze in five-and-a-half hours of sleep before heading to the park for his third career start.

“I felt fine,” Pannone said. “I felt like I’ve been feeling out there lately. Nothing really changed. I didn’t feel fatigued or anything. I didn’t get all that much sleep last night, but I got enough to feel fresh today.”

Pannone didn’t look like someone who was just hours off a long trip. He held the Red Sox scoreless through four innings, including 1-2-3 third and fourth frames while facing the top of the order. He kept the Red Sox off the board while opposing starter Chris Sale did the same to the Blue Jays’ offense.

“He was throwing strikes, and that’s one thing you’ve got to do here,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Pannone. “You can’t walk people because you get in trouble. He kept us in the game. You could tell early on that Chris Sale was on, so there was no room for error. He gave us a chance.”

Montoyo had hoped to get four or five innings out of the lefty Pannone. The fifth proved to be the end of his outing. With one out, Pannone gave up a double to Sam Travis and a subsequent RBI single to Sandy Leon. After walking Mookie Betts, he allowed a three-run homer to the hot-hitting Rafael Devers, who he had struck out in the first.

“I got through four innings pretty clean, and then kind of got got in the fifth inning,” Pannone said. “That curveball I threw to Travis wasn’t really well executed for the double. From there, you saw what happened.”

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Pannone finished Thursday’s start with four runs, five hits, three strikeouts and two walks. He threw 49 of his 65 pitches for strikes. It was the third time he faced the Red Sox this season. On April 11, Pannone threw one pitch to get Devers out at Fenway Park, and he pitched 4 1/3 innings (four runs, four strikeouts) out of the bullpen on July 4 at Rogers Centre.

“I felt pretty good about it,” Pannone said of his start. “I think the first four innings went pretty good. It was pretty much a spitting image of my last outing I had against them in Toronto.”

Pannone, who grew up two hours south of Boston, had plenty of friends and family on hand at Fenway Park. He was greeted by them after the game, and then prepared to travel with the Blue Jays to begin a three-game road series against the Tigers in Detroit.

“Overall, I felt good,” Pannone said. “I’ve been feeling really good on the mound lately. I think you’ve got to just keep chugging along and keep making good pitches. I think the results will come.”