It is starting to sound like a broken record. The Orioles pitching and defense couldn't quite keep it together for nine innings as the Orioles (7-10) fell 7-5 to the Boston Red Sox (10-7) at Camden Yards on Friday night.
Let me tell ya, the Orioles started the games with their bats on absolute fire. By that I mean they all need to burn the lumber they used the first time through the order. Red Sox starter Rick Porcello struck out six of the first seven batters he faced. Through three innings, he dealt with the minimum nine hitters. The only runner was Caleb Joseph, whose walk was wiped out by an Everth Cabrera double-play ball.
Meanwhile, O's starter Miguel Gonzalez was putting in some work, getting through four innings without allowing a run despite conceding four base runners on three hits and a hit-by-pitch.
The offense started to show up in the bottom of the fourth inning. Manny Machado delivered a one-out single in front of budding superstar Jimmy Paredes (typed with just a little bit of sarcasm). Paredes sent an 87 mph Porcello slider into the Baltimore night and just over the railing above the out-of-town scoreboard in right field for a two-run home run to give the Birds a 2-0 lead. The round-tripper was Paredes' second of the year.
Boston fired back the next half inning. Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia set the table with a two-out walk and single, respectively. And up to the plate walked Big Sloppy, David Ortiz. Of course he hit a home run. This one managed to get beyond the reach of Delmon Young, and his five-inch vertical, in right field to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
Hanley Ramirez followed two pitches later with a solo shot to left field. All of the sudden, it was 4-2 BoSox, and here we go again, right?
Not so fast. The Orioles fought back in their half of the fifth by manufacturing a run. It all started with the first career hit for 25-year-old rookie Rey Navarro. Thanks to an interesting route by Ramirez in left, Navarro notched a one-out double. Caleb Joseph followed with a line out to center, advancing Navarro to third. And Cabrera drove in the run with a single sliced into left-center. 4-3 Red Sox.
Gonzalez's day was finished after the sixth inning and 91 pitches. His line: six innings, eight hits, four runs (all earned), 1 walk, 1 strikeout and two home runs. He didn't have a bad night, certainly keeping the O's in a position to win. But he didn't have his best stuff either. just the one strikeout shows that. It was a grind, but much better than what most of the starters have showed lately.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles sent seven hitters to the plate, but could only score one. The run came when Cabrera sent a sacrifice fly to left field, bringing in Chris Davis from third and tying the game 4-4. The inning could have been more fruitful, but Machado left the bases loaded with a swinging strikeout.
Porcello exited the game with two runners on in the seventh and no outs. He was responsible for Davis. His line: six innings, six hits, four runs (all earned), two walks, seven strikeouts and one home run. The righty started the night looking un-hittable, but the Oriole lineup began to make him thrown more pitches and he looked to be getting tired towards the end of his 97-pitch outing.
First out of the bullpen for the O's was Tommy Hunter, and he was actually pretty darn good. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one strikeout. However, his replacements, Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day, did not fair quite as well.
Matusz came on to face one batter, Pablo Sandoval, and obviously he walked him. Manager Buck Showalter came out to take the ball from the southpaw and give it to the submariner O'Day.
In fairness to O'Day, he should have been out of the inning with the next batter. He managed to get Allen Craig to send a harmless-looking chopper to the Platinum Glover Machado at third. For some reason, Manny decided to charge the grounder and give it the "Oley!" treatment. It didn't work, he missed it and the inning continued.
MASN broadcaster Jim Hunter felt it should have been a hit. However, I'm on the side of the official scorer. Machado makes that play nine out of ten times, at least. He should have made it this time too.
The next batter, Brock Holt, sent a 1-2 pitch onto the flag court for a three-run bomb. 7-4 Red Sox. Gut punch.
Chris Davis cut down the lead a bit by sending a deep fly ball to right-center for his third home run of the season, making it a 7-5 game in the bottom of the eighth inning, but it wasn't enough.
Former Oriole Koji Uehara came on to work the ninth inning for Boston and got into some trouble. Joseph led off with a single and advanced to third on a long one-out single from Steve Pearce. Unfortunately, the rest of the lineup could not come through as Machado popped out and Paredes struck out on three swings at pitches out of the zone to end the game.
Matusz (0-2) takes the loss for the O's while Alexi Ogando (1-0), who threw one-third of an inning in the seventh, grabbed the win and Koji (3) the save.
Some bright spots: Jason Garcia pitched a scoreless ninth inning and struck out two, bringing his season ERA down to 5.63. Hunter also brought his ERA down to 6.48 with his performance mentioned earlier. Delmon Young quietly had two hits tonight. And Steve Pearce put together two nice at-bats, going 1-for-1 with a walk.
And the bad: The Orioles were out-Orioled tonight, allowing three home runs. The pitching staff is now tied for fourth-most home runs allowed in the MLB with 18. And the defense isn't helping as they made two more errors tonight. Machado's basically lost the game and Cabrera's in the ninth forced the rookie Garcia to throw more pitches to a good lineup.
The Birds are now on a five-game losing streak. Following the game, Showalter said that he's not worried about it. He reiterated the cliche that it's a 162-game season and said there were no common threads in the losses. That is, of course, if you want to completely ignore how bad the pitching has been, both starters and bullpen. Yeah, totally no other threads. Oh, and the defense being bad. No threads.
The fact is that the team isn't very good right now. It happens, and when you are missing three everyday starters it may happen more often than you would expect. Hopefully they turn it around tomorrow.
Wei-Yin Chen will head to the mound and try to be the stopper for the Birds. The Red Sox will counter with right-hander Justin Masterson. First pitch is set for 7:05 at the Yard.