When you look on the scoreboard and see a 1-0 baseball game, you might have certain expectations. Things like great pitching, stellar defense, a game full of almosts and coulda-beens that moved along at a brisk pace. As the Orioles lost to the Red Sox, 1-0, on Tuesday night, the game had none of those things. It was boring, rainy, and frustrating, and they should have lost by far more than they did.
Though the game itself completed in a relatively-brisk 2:32 - which is bordering on miraculous where the Red Sox are involved, it was interrupted twice by rain, the first time for 15 minutes and the second time for an hour and eighteen minutes. Both of these delays happened before the second inning concluded. Curiously, both team's starters, Brandon Workman and Chris Tillman, returned to the game following the long rain delay.
Tillman cruised through the first inning while making only six pitches, and he retired David Ortiz quickly to lead off the second. The rain arrived suddenly, an abrupt and torrential downpour that required the 15 minute stoppage of play, basically just long enough for the ground crew to put on the tarp and roll up the tarp. After that first rain delay, the sharp, efficient Tillman was gone. He walked the first batter he faced after the first rain delay and gave up a single and another walk in the inning to load the bases before striking out Red Sox shortstop Jonathan Herrera. It started out so well.
The game's second rain delay came one out into the bottom of the second inning. The rain had never entirely subsided and it once again became unplayable while the game was going on. The umpiring crew let the charade continue long enough for Chris Davis to strike out, then called the game again. Over an hour later, the Orioles made two more quick outs to finally end the second inning.
In the third inning, with Tillman having laid off for another hour-plus, he once again had problems, throwing 31 pitches to six batters. He gave up a leadoff single up the middle to Brock Holt, then retired the next two batters and had two strikes on Ortiz. You might have thought he was on the verge of getting out of that situation, but if so, you forgot you were dealing with an Orioles starter. Tillman walked Ortiz, even after being spotted a free strike while Ortiz stepped out of the box mid-pitch. Napoli delivered a single just out of Nick Markakis' jogging range to score Holt, the game's lone run.
Tillman did not exactly settle down, allowing three straight singles to load the bases with no one out in the fourth inning. That came against the bottom of the Red Sox lineup. He escaped the worst outcome by getting Holt to strike out and then inducing a 6-4-3 double play from Xander Bogaerts. It was a remarkably Oriolesque piece of non-hitting. That was the 74th double play the Orioles have turned on the year, which leads all of MLB.
While all this was going on, the Orioles had no answer for Workman, which should come to no surprise to anyone who's watched the team this year. They did not even get a baserunner until Nelson Cruz walked with one out in the fifth inning. Cruz, in what is becoming true Cruz-ian fashion, got himself TOOTBLAN'd (thrown out on the basepaths like a nincompoop) the very next batter, as J.J. Hardy popped out to second base. The ball never had a chance of going anywhere and Cruz got caught out. Maybe he thought there were two outs.
The Orioles had no hits at all until Ryan Flaherty lined a single to center field with two outs in the sixth.
There was a whole lot of first-pitch hacking and weak contact. What a shock, right? Workman was lifted after 6.2 innings, in which he only threw 67 pitches. How do you let a guy get through 6.2 innings in 67 pitches? They never had any balls that felt like they "should" have been hits. They were just pathetic.
Tillman somehow worked through six innings despite having 60 pitches through only three innings. You could give him some credit for battling through a tough night if you wanted, but if that's the case, you probably didn't have to watch him pitch tonight. Just look at all of these pitches up in the stratosphere. He threw three pitches that don't even fit on the chart. He gave up seven hits and three walks in six innings. He was not in control of the game at any point.
Andrew Miller relieved Workman with two outs in the seventh inning and promptly struck out Chris Davis. It was the third strikeout of the night for Chris Davis, who didn't even bat again after that because that's how few baserunners the Orioles got.
Junichi Tazawa pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Red Sox, meaning that the Orioles came into the ninth inning with only a single hit. Awesome former Oriole Koji Uehara would be coming on to close out the game. Awesome current Oriole Steve Pearce led off the ninth with a pinch-hit single.
Would the Orioles make it interesting and exciting in the ninth? No. Ryan Flaherty, the number nine hitter, came up after Pearce and laid down a bunt. It was one of those bunts that went straight back towards the pitcher. Uehara fired to second base to get the lead runner. Please stop sacrifice bunting. Even when it works, it's stupid.
As it turned out, it didn't matter whether there was a runner on first and second because Markakis and Manny Machado both struck out to send the Orioles to the 1-0 defeat. An 0-4 night snapped a 14-game hit streak for Markakis. The two hits that the Orioles got in the game was their fewest all season, beating the previous low of three on May 17 against Kansas City.
How do you get only two hits in a game started by Workman? No one knows. The loss knocks the Orioles back down to only a game over .500 for the umpteenth time this season. A little over two months into the season, they are repeatedly showing us that they are a .500 baseball team. Maybe eventually that will sink in and we will stop hoping for more. It just feels like they should be more.
The two teams will play the rubber game of this three-game series on Wednesday night at 7:05. The scheduled starters are Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles and Rubby De La Rosa for the Red Sox.