In the annals of Internet baseball fandom is something called Weird Baseball. It is very simple: Any time a baseball game is still being played after midnight local time in the home stadium, there is Weird Baseball. You're supposed to mark the occasion by eating ice cream.
Surely any game that begins before noon is also Weird Baseball. That is what the Orioles and Red Sox played on a rainy Monday afternoon in Boston, with their 11:05am start time due to Patriots Day and the Boston Marathon and whatever other reasons they have for continuing that tradition. Weird is sometimes good. It was not for the O's today. They lost, mostly looking like garbage in the process.
The game begun absurdly early. It was cold and wet. These are not excuses, but they are reasons. Even a good team will lose a lot of games in the course of the season, and in some of those games they will look quite bad. When you lose 7-1 while committing three errors, with your starting pitcher walking five guys in only 4.1 innings, that's one of the bad ones. All it means is that they lost today. Hopefully next time things go better.
You could get the feeling it was going to be one of those games almost from the get-go. The dynamic strikeout duo of Alejandro De Aza and Chris Davis both whiffed in the top of the first inning. An Adam Jones walk was mixed in there. That's never expected. He was stranded.
The bottom of the first saw Mookie Betts lead off with a single. Betts stole second, likely a dead duck if not for an atrocious throw by catcher Ryan Lavarnway, which skipped into center field and also allowed Betts to take third base on the play. He then scored easily on a sacrifice fly off the bat of David Ortiz, putting the Red Sox up 1-0 early on.
Betts taketh away. He giveth also, playing a Travis Snider single to lead off the top of the second into a triple. Snider scored easily when Ryan Flaherty hit a double off of the Green Monster. Flaherty really does love hitting in his native New England. This tied the score, temporarily, at 1-1. It was the last good thing in the game for the Orioles.
The third inning was when the wheels really came off for Chen. He walked the first batter, Xander Bogaerts, then gave up a single to Ryan Hanigan. Why do O's pitchers seem to be unable to retire Hanigan in this series? Oh well. Chen got a comebacker from Betts that could have been a double-play ball, only he couldn't glove it. The ball landed in front of him and if he had been able to field it cleanly, he might have thrown out Bogaerts trying to score. If he had fielded it at all he might have been able to throw out Betts at first base.
Chen did none of these things. The run scored. Everyone was safe. Everything was terrible. Despite being gifted an out on a sacrifice by Dustin Pedroia, Chen still couldn't get out of the inning without more damage. He issued back-to-back two-out walks, one of which came with the bases loaded and plated a run. Augh, no! Sadly, yes.
For good measure, a grounder to third base hit by Shane Victorino was bungled by Manny Machado, a rare miscue for the O's defensive star. The inning might have ended there, and instead two runs scored and Victorino ended up on second base after the umpiring crew gifted him a bonus base when a fan reached out and touched the live ball.
Before being lifted from the game in the fifth inning, Chen managed to walk two more batters. You have to try to walk five batters in 4.1 innings. The Red Sox got five runs off Chen, none of which were earned, on only three hits. Sheesh. Was it the cold, 43 degrees at first pitch? That probably didn't help. Neither did the rain. Whatever it was, the O's lost an ugly one.
They didn't do much to help their own cause on offense anyway, getting only four hits and looking helpless against the slider of Red Sox starter Justin Masterson. Errors or not, pitchers walking the world or not, you will win few games where you only get five hits and one run.
Loch Ness Monster/reliever Jason Garcia was sighted in relief of Chen. With how he looked in Monday's game, he'll probably be headed back into an existence of rumored appearances being spoken about in hushed whispers, with only grainy, distant photographs to give us any slight proof that such a creature exists on this mortal coil. Garcia in the sixth inning hit a batter, intentionally walked another, and gave up two runs on two hits.
Jones brought a nine game hitting streak into the game that came to an end after his 0-2 with a walk.
The game was called after the top of the seventh inning, though not before fans were inflicted with a rain delay of over an hour and a half. Given the workload the O's bullpen had to shoulder through this weekend, this was probably something of a blessing. They lost today, but that doesn't mean they'll lose tomorrow.
The Orioles now head to Toronto for a three-game series that will begin on Tuesday night at 7:07. The scheduled starters are Bud Norris and Mark Buehrle.