Eduardo Rodriguez, the prospect the Orioles traded away, has had an impressive streak of performance early in his big league career for the Red Sox. Early in Thursday's game he was equally impressive, retiring the first ten O's that he faced, just enough to where you started wondering if you'd have to worry about a no-hitter. Then it all fell apart for Rodriguez and the Orioles jumped on him, riding that advantage to an 8-6 victory to take their series in Boston.
When all was said and done, the former Oriole who helped out the Red Sox the most was not Rodriguez but Alejandro De Aza, who helped to keep Boston in the game by knocking a three-run home run in the fourth inning. Go figure.
De Aza's home run came in the next half inning after the Orioles jumped on Rodriguez for six runs, which means that O's starter Miguel Gonzalez did not do a very good job of suddenly pitching with a large lead. It wasn't as bad as the Chris Tillman experience in Toronto since Boston never tied up the game, but it did end up being a tense one, and with T.J. McFarland allowing a couple of runs in two innings of relief, it was good that they got some insurance runs later on.
When you have a designated hitter in right field
It was the Red Sox who struck first in the game, grabbing a run in the second inning. Mike Napoli hit a pop fly down the right field line that was in no man's land, or at least no man's land when Chris Parmelee is your first baseman and Delmon Young is your right fielder. Young slid to try to get the ball and Parmelee ended up kneeing Young in the ribs while falling over him. The O's were lucky the ball bounced out of play or even Napoli might have went for an inside-the-parker. Instead it was a double. Napoli scored on a Blake Swihart single later in the inning to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
For the O's, it took until the fourth inning for them to get going. Once they did so, they kept going. The Orioles grabbed six runs in the fourth on seven straight hits. That started with a Chris Parmelee double and included a Matt Wieters two-run home run and a J.J. Hardy two-run double. Even when Rodriguez finally got an out, it was a Ryan Flaherty sacrifice fly that ended up scoring the sixth Orioles run. Flaherty was the only Oriole in the starting nine not to have a hit in the game.
A 6-1 Orioles lead didn't last for long thanks to the aforementioned De Aza home run that pulled things to 6-4. Gonzalez at least survived his one bad inning, though he was out of the game after only five innings pitched with four runs allowed. Gonzalez gave up eight hits in five innings, though he didn't walk any batters and struck out four. It's bad in the sense that it's the 14th time in 18 games that the Orioles have not had their starter get a quality start (6+ IP, 3 ER or fewer), but the O's are 13-5 despite that.
An offense that can keep putting runs on the board is one thing that will help. The O's got those important insurance runs, one in the sixth inning and one in the seventh. In the sixth, they scored a run after Steve Pearce hit a two-out double off the Green Monster.
Please don't DFA Steve Pearce, argues Steve Pearce
Pearce had three hits on the day, including two doubles, and played like a guy who senses that someone is getting DFA'd tomorrow. Pearce even grabbed a cheeky steal of third base due to Pablo Sandoval playing so far off the bag. Manny Machado drove in Pearce to make it 7-4. The next inning, doubles by Nolan Reimold and Chris Davis resulted in another Orioles run. Reimold, playing center field with Adam Jones absent for the sixth time in eight games, looked good out there today. He beat out an infield single in addition to his double.
Boston pulled the deficit back to two runs thanks to scoring a pair off McFarland in the seventh. Two players who rode in on the Boston prospect hype train, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, turned a single, a groundout, a double, and a wild pitch into the two runs. The score was 8-6.
Despite loading the bases with only one out in the top of the ninth, the Orioles couldn't get any more runs across. David Lough was thrown out at home after trying to score on a Pearce flyout. I was not at a TV or radio for this play so I can't honestly tell you if it was Windmill'd, TOOTBLAN'd, or if Sox right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. just made a heck of a throw.
Bradley led off the bottom of the ninth by singling, because as you know, the player who makes the great defensive play always leads off the next inning. Orioles closer Zach Britton is a cool customer who doesn't care if he has to face the top of the Sox lineup with the tying run at the plate. A popout, a strikeout, and a groundout later and the Orioles were in the win column and heading out of Boston as winners of the series.
The promised land, a.k.a. slightly ahead of the Blue Jays
The division leading Rays are idle on Thursday, so the O's pull back to two games back in the division. They're also once again a percentage point ahead of the Blue Jays for third place. The Jays are also off on Thursday.
All in all for the O's offense, they brought a storm of 14 hits to Fenway Park, half of which were for extra bases. Six were doubles and there was the Wieters home run. They batted 6-13 with runners in scoring position. It won't be that good every game so you want to wins the one where things are that good, and win they did. They are once again a season-high four games over .500.
Next up for the Orioles is a return to Baltimore, where they'll face Cleveland over the weekend. Wei-Yin Chen will be activated to start for the O's, with reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber starting for the Indians.