Despite scoring nine runs, the O’s were unable to hang with the Red Sox and lost the series finale in a slugfest.
The Red Sox clubbed the Birds into submission on Sunday afternoon, with the return of J.D. Martinez from the COVID-19 injured list proving to be a difference-maker. Boston tagged Oriole pitching for six home runs today and leave town with a series sweep.
Jorge Lopez’s second start of the season proved no better than his first. He was unsteady from the outset, but was able to work out of trouble in the first by striking out Rafael Devers with two outs and two on base.
On the other hand, Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta put leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins down on three pitches in the first. Then No. 2 hitter Trey Mancini reached via walk, and Anthony Santander tried to catch the Red Sox off guard with a bunt. It was a puzzling play, considering the count was 3-1, and Santander is one of the team’s top bats. The bunt was handled easily by Pivetta for out No. 2 before cleanup hitter Ryan Mountcastle struck out for the final out.
Lopez breezed through his half of the second, needing just 10 pitches to dispatch the Red Sox on a groundout, line-out, and strikeout.
With one out in the third and the O’s infield shifted for a left-handed pull hitter, Maikel Franco charged a ground ball from the shortstop position and made a strong running throw to nail Franchy Cordero. But instant replay reversed the call, making it sting more when Enrique Hernandez knocked a single and Alex Verdugo followed with a three-run home run. Verdugo must’ve been mad at Lopez for getting plunked in his prior at-bat.
And Boston wasn’t done, with J.D. Martinez lifting a Jorge Lopez knuckle curve onto the flag court. Then a strikeout, walk, and double-play, in that order, ended the inning. Lopez walked off to regroup in the dugout with his team down 4-0.
The O’s had a chance to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth, but it fizzled out. The O’s got back-to-back singles from Freddy Galvis and Mullins. Then Trey Mancini’s grounder glanced off Bobby Dalbec’s glove at first, and it seemed as though the runner Mullins obscured Dalbec’s view of the ball.
Santander then came to the plate with the bases jammed, but struck out at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat. Galvis made the third out at home while trying to score on a ball that got away from catcher Christian Vazquez.
Lopez bounced back from his turbulent third inning by retiring Boston in order on eight pitches in the fourth.
Baltimore finally got on the board in the home half of the fourth. With one out, Mountcastle cracked a double to the left-center gap and later scored on an RBI single by Franco, shrinking the O’s deficit to three. 4-1, Red Sox.
But the Orioles immediately gave that back, and more. Lopez allowed Boston’s fifth run before exiting and was responsible for two runners on base when Rule 5 pick Mac Sceroler gave up a three-run bomb to Devers. Boston scored one more run before the inning ended, bringing their lead to 9-1.
Lopez’s final pitching line was seven earned runs on eight hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and two home runs in four innings.
Sceroler stayed on to start the sixth, but he didn’t finish it. Martinez hit his second home run of the day, and Sceroler was pulled with two on base. Fellow Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells entered and got three consecutive outs. 10-1, Red Sox.
Franco continued to be Baltimore’s source of RBI in the sixth and brought the O’s a bit closer to Boston. He cranked his first home run as an Oriole — a three-run shot to right — on a first-pitch slider from Nick Pivetta. Earlier in the sixth, Ryan McKenna got his first major league hit — a triple to deep center — while pinch-hitting for Santander.
The Birds earned back-to-back walks — a rare sight — to begin the seventh. They were rewarded with Mancini’s second home run of the year, a three-run shot that just reached the seats beyond the grounds crew’s dugout in right. Suddenly the Orioles were within three of the Red Sox by a score of 10-7.
In the eighth inning, Martinez continued his onslaught of O’s pitching with his third round-tripper of the game, a solo homer to center. And advancing the home run theme, Shawn Armstrong surrendered a two-run homer to Devers — his second of the game — in relief of Wells.
Somehow, things got even sloppier in the eighth when the Red Sox’s 14th run scored as a result of two miscues: a fielding error by Rio Ruiz and a throwing error by Ramon Urias that occurred on the same play. 14-7, Red Sox.
The O’s were able to scratch a couple runs across in the bottom of the ninth off Red Sox reliever Phillips Valdez. Mancini had an RBI groundout that scored Mullins, and McKenna reached on a soft single before eventually scoring on a wild pitch. It was enough to get Matt Barnes tossing in the Boston bullpen, but the game would close with the Sox on top, 14-9.
The Birds have been hot and cold to start the 2021 season, but more recently cold. Their resolve will be tested with the start of a four-game series tomorrow against the Seattle Mariners.