"It's batting practice tonight, folks". The words spoken by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer on MASN's broadcast were apropos as the Orioles pitchers struggled with the Red Sox lineup in a 10-1 loss at Camden Yards on Wednesday night.
Palmer and play-by-play man Gary Thorne repeatedly mentioned that the O's front office and coaching staff want to get a look at some of the more unknown commodities on the roster. Well, they sure got that chance as 22 different Orioles took the field; 16 hitters and six pitchers.
The game took on a bit of a little league feel following the seventh inning as eight different substitutions were made at one time by the O's. Man, that has got to be one crowded lineup card, but it was already 9-0 at that point so there wasn't much to lose.
Right-hander Mike Wright got the start and it's quite possible it will be his last of the year. Wright lasted just three innings, allowing six runs on six hits, two home runs, one walk and one strikeout. His ERA has now bloated to 6.33 on the season after he had started on such a high note back in May. With Tyler Wilson in the fold once again, I could see manager Buck Showalter giving the stirrups/sideburns combination another shot.
First out of the 'pen was Julio Rondon, who was tasked with cleaning up Wright's mess. That didn't happen. In fact, he made things a bit worse, allowing both inherited runners to score before allowing three of his own runs over two innings of work. It had been nearly two weeks since he last pitched and it showed.
The pitching settled down a bit after that as Jason Garcia, Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland and Oliver Drake combined to throw four innings (one each) and give up just one run (McFarland in the eighth).
Following an extra-inning game a night ago, it could have been the plan all along to go with the "back-ups", but the O's didn't use a single arm that has been a major factor in the big league bullpen all season. Wright's poor start made the decision even easier to make.
In some ways, it wasn't a terrible night from the hitters. They had eight hits as a unit, only struck out four times and managed to get the lead-off man on base five times (four hits, one error). However, they notched just one walk and it came in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. And they left eight men on base and didn't have a single hit with a runner in scoring position. No hitter had more than one hit. Blah.
The team's sole run came in the ninth inning. Junior Lake led off by reaching second base on a two-base error by Boston first baseman Travis Shaw. Ryan Flaherty followed with a ground out, moving Lake to third. Steve Pearce drove in Lake with a ground out to third base. Other than that, it was a quiet night.
It is a broken record to say, but the O's rely pretty heavily on the home run. When it doesn't happen, the lineup lacks most of their threat. Alas, they have been hitting them out like crazy lately, so an off night is to be expected.
The other side
Southpaw Henry Owens disrupted the Oriole hitters all night with his high-80s fastball, high-70s change-up and high-60s curveball. The rookie entered the night with a 5.25 ERA, but the Birds just couldn't figure him out. When it was all said and done, he tossed 7.2 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing six hits and striking out four.
Righty Roman Mendez finished up the eighth inning. Veteran Ryan Cook came on to pitch the ninth and allowed the one blemish on the Boston pitching record for the night.
Dustin Pedroia led the offensive onslaught for the visitors, going 2-for-4 with two home runs, five RBI and one walk. David Ortiz added a solo home run of his own. Brock Holt had a two-for-five game, and shortstop Devan Marrero registered a game-leading three hits in his four at-bats
The O's are now headed for the Sunshine State to face-off with the fourth-place Tampa Bay Rays. Chris Tillman (9-11, 5.21 ERA) is set to match-up with left-hander Matt Moore (1-4, 8.42). Over 19 career starts, Tillman is 5-9 with a 4.27 ERA against Tampa. Moore is 4-4 with a 4.43 ERA over nine games (eight starts) versus the Birds. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.