The Orioles started this game like things were going to be different, and Jake Arrieta had a relatively short but encouraging night on the mound, but ultimately the Orioles remembered who they were and what month this is, and they rolled over for the Red Sox.
I won't go into the gruesome details regarding Jon Lester's history with the Orioles; you all know it as well as anyone. I was in the press box tonight sitting next to Paul Folkemer from Orioles Hangout and when David Ortiz doubled in Marco Scutaro with two outs in the top of the first inning he said, "That's probably the only run the Red Sox need with Lester on the mound." I reminded him that Jon Lester had never pitched against THIS Orioles team. This team being, of course, Buck's Birds. And for the first few minutes, it seemed that I was right.
The Orioles came to bat in the bottom of the first down 1-0 and after Brian Roberts grounded out, the fun started. Julio Lugo and Nick Markakis singled and then Lester hit Ty Wigginton to load the bases. Adam Jones doubled to left field scoring Lugo and Markakis and giving the Orioles the lead. Felix Pie stepped to the plate with runners at second and third, but not for long. Lester uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Wiggy to lumber home from third. Pie then doubled in Adam Jones. Felix would be stranded at second base as Matt Wieters struck out and Nolan Reimold (welcome back, Gazelle!) grounded out to end the inning. Still, four runs in the first off of Jon Lester. It was an impressive showing by the Orioles. Lester threw 34 pitches and the Red Sox had gotten someone up in the bullpen.
After an extended stay in the dugout, Arrieta returned to the mound and unfortunately couldn't hold the three run lead. With two outs Daniel Nava singled and then scored on a double by Ryan Kalish. Rick Kranitz came out for a little talk and Arrieta then retired Scutaro on a ground ball to end the inning.
The O's, still feeling kind of feisty after their four run first, got the run back for Arrieta. With two outs Lugo got his second single of the day, moved to second on Markakis' walk, and scored on a hit by Wiggy. Adam Jones then chased some horrible pitches and struck out to end the inning. At that point Jon Lester had thrown 57 pitches and I thought that even if he settled down the Orioles would surely be in the Red Sox bullpen early in the game. I was wrong.
With the Orioles leading 5-2 going into the bottom of the third, Jon Lester remembered two things. First, he remembered that he is Jon Lester. Then he remembered that the team he was facing was the Orioles. He retired the Orioles in order in the third, fourth, and fifth innings before getting into some hot water in the sixth. He struck out Pie for the first out but then allowed back-to-back singles to Wieters and Reimold. Josh Bell, who had a rough night at the plate, popped out to first for the second out but Lester walked Roberts to load the bases. No matter, though, because the #2 hitter in the lineup was Julio Lugo, who Lester struck out on three pitches.
Lugo would be Lester's last batter faced and he headed into the seventh inning down 5-3 as Arrieta had allowed a solo home run to J.D. Drew in the fifth. He was in line for the loss but then Orioles, who are nothing if not courteous, remembered that Jon Lester does not lose to the Orioles and coughed up six runs in the top of the 7th.
Mark Hendrickson, who relieved Arrieta after five innings and pitched a scoreless sixth, came back out to start the seventh. Pinch hitter Darnell McDonald singled up the middle, putting a runner on first for Marco Scutaro's 8th home run of the year. That tied the game at five, cost Arrieta the win, and let Lester off the hook for the loss. Well done, Hendo. He then walked J.D. Drew and was mercifully pulled from the game.
Not so fast with being happy about that, though, because his replacement was Alfredo "Weak Sauce" Simon. Simon didn't waste any time, immediately giving up an RBI double to Victor Martinez. Showalter then decided to intentionally walk David Ortiz, I assume to set up the double play, but that didn't actually work out. I'm no great baseball mind, but a word of advice to Buck from someone who has watched a LOT of bad baseball: it's not usually a good idea to let a pitcher intentionally walk someone when the thing he is kind of known for is giving up home runs. Simon does, after all, have the distinction of giving up home runs in four straight games in August (in a span of four innings). If you like home runs and also feeling miserable, Simon didn't let you down. Adrian Beltre did not hit into a double play as I'm sure was the intention of the Orioles. Instead he his a three run home run to left field, giving the Red Sox a 9-5 lead. That capped the Red Sox comeback and ensured that not only would Lester not take the loss, but that he'd actually get the win. Come on already!
The O's got a useless run in the bottom of the 8th when Felix Pie, on base after hitting his second double of the night, scored on Reimold's sacrifice fly. They went 1-2-3 in the ninth, though, to end the game.
Jake Arrieta didn't have a fantastic outing by any means, but he did do something that he hadn't done yet in his major league career. He didn't walk any batters, which combined with five strikeouts in five innings is pretty impressive. He threw 66% of his pitches for strikes but the Red Sox batters just worked him over to run up the pitch count. Still, an encouraging night for Jake and hopefully something he can build on.
The O's go for the series win tomorrow as the recently effective Brad Bergesen and his newly discovered 93 mph fastball will try to outpitch Daisuke Matsuzaka. I have to say I like our chances in that one.