In the grand scheme of Orioles losses, this one wasn't so bad. It was frustrating that the hitters couldn't get anything done against a less-than-stellar Andrew Miller, but the pitching performance by Jake Arrieta goes a long way to soothe that pain. And unlike so many losses that the Orioles have subjected us to, after the third inning it didn't really seem like they had much of a chance (despite the low score), so that helped quell the anger.
So, Arrieta. He's had his troubles this season. He hadn't had a good game in July until today, so it was nice to see him put together a solid day. He pitched two scoreless innings before a solo home run by Jacoby Ellsbury put the Red Sox up 1-0. In the fourth inning, Josh Reddick and Carl Crawford led off with hits, putting runners at second and third with no outs. Jake got himself together, though, and only gave up one run on a ground out.
After completing the sixth inning with 96 pitches, I assumed that Arrieta's day was finished. It was a good day for him, even if he couldn't go any further. But Buck Showalter surprised everyone by sending Jake back out for the seventh. He retired Jason Varitek and Yamaico Navarro easily, but then that pesky Ellsbury got to him again for his second home run of the game. Ellsbury has certainly been eating his Wheaties, as it was his fifteenth home run of the season. In his four-year career leading up to 2011, Ellsbury has a total of twenty home runs.
You can second guess the decision to either send Arrieta back out for the seventh or to leave him in to face Ellsbury again, but I don't have any problem with it. It's nice to see the guys being challenged and going deep into games, and seven innings with three runs against the Red Sox isn't a bad day in my book. This is especially true since Arrieta didn't walk anyone, the first time he's done that this season. Unfortunately for Arrieta, his teammates on the other side of the ball couldn't manage to give him any support.
Remember when Andrew Miller was traded to the Marlins with a bunch of other players for Miguel Cabrera and everyone was like, "Ooh, Andrew Miller!" Well, not so much anymore. Andrew Miller helps make the case that our James F pleads every so often, which is that prospects are often more valuable for what they might become, so trade 'em while you can.
As evidence by his performance today, Miller walks a lot of guys. Going into today's game, Miller had walked sixteen batters in just 25.1 innings. It was more of the same against the Orioles this afternoon. Miller walked Adam Jones in the first inning, then in the second inning issued back-to-back-to-back walks to Mark Reynolds, Nolan Reimold, and Robert Andino. Unfortunately for the Orioles, he walked them ahead of backup catcher Craig Tatum. Tater had a rather long at-bat, but not because he was being patient. He fouled off a pitch, took two balls in the dirt, and then fouled off three more before grounding into an inning ending double play. In his defense, every foul ball was on a pitch in the strike zone (although not so much the pitch he grounded out on), and further, he's Craig Tatum, but it was still a terrible way to end the inning.
Miller walked Jones again in the third inning, but the Orioles didn't get their first hit off of him until Tatum singled with one out in the fifth. The Orioles got their second and last hit of the game in the sixth inning when Derrek Lee singled with two outs. Miller followed that by walking Reynolds and his day was finished. He was replaced by Matt Albers, who continued to thumb his nose at the Orioles by ending the inning and sitting the O's down in order in the seventh.
Mark Hendrickson proved he's still not a very good pitcher by walking in a run in the eighth inning, but Mark Worrell impressively got out of Hendo's bases-loaded, no-outs mess with two strikeouts and a fly ball. After Albers, the Red Sox turned to Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon to shut down the O's, and shut them down they did.
With the loss, the Red Sox took the series and the Orioles fell to 39-56. Tomorrow is an off day, then the Angels come to town for the weekend series.