Coming into tonight, Rich Hill had pitched in two games in 2015, both for the Red Sox. He pitched 14 innings over those two starts, with an ERA of 1.93. He threw 216 pitches. He gave up one walk while striking out 20. I don't know why I was surprised at the way he dominated the Orioles, but I was. The way the Orioles have been hitting lately, you'd think they could take care of a 35-yr old lefty. They could not.
Nolan Reimold got things going quickly with a leadoff single in the top of the first inning. Machado followed up with a decent hit to right field that did look like it might fall...this caused Reimold to get all the way to second before Mookie Betts caught the ball and forced Reimold to go back to first. He was able to dodge the tag at first to get back to first safely. Why Shaw didn't just tag first I don't know. It was all for naught though as Davis would come up and ground into a double play.
After Kevin Gausman got two quick outs, Xander Bogaerts got a groundball off of him but thought - or tried to fake - that the ball fouled off his foot and didn't run to first. The problem was that the umpires never called it foul, so on a ground ball that would have been a tough play for Manny, Bogaerts was instead called out. Replay showed it didn't hit him. So, inning over.
The bottom of the second showed that the Orioles' outfield woes aren't behind them yet. David Ortiz ripped a liner into center field. Dariel Alvarez missed the initial pickup, allowing it to roll an extra ten feet and forcing Reimold to get it. Gary Throne said it would have been a double for Ortiz either way, but given the strength of Alvarez's arm and how slow Ortiz is, I'm not sure. Fortunately it didn't matter - Gausman got two strikeouts before getting Brock Holt to groundout. Guasman got up around 40 pitches, which isn't great for two innings but I'll take it if no runs are scoring.
I wrote in my preview for this series that despite being a veteran pitcher, Hill had a decent lefty/right split that favored right-handed batters. I can only assume that's why Christian Walker was in at DH, because otherwise it doesn't seem like the best idea when you're still in the running for that Wild Card spot. I like Walker, but this may not be the place to get him experience.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Gausman got into trouble. He walked Mookie Betts before Dustin Pedroia singled to push Betts to third. Bogaerts follows that up with a double that scores Betts, Pedroia gets called out at the plate. Not great, but I suppose it could have been worse. Always painful though when you end up allowing a run after two outs and no one on the bases. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Brock Holt worked a leadoff walk and got over to third through a sac bunt and groundout before scoring on a wild pitch. Meanwhile, the Reimold's hit in the first inning is the only one the Orioles have managed off of Hill. This is going real well.
After Hill retired 16 Orioles in a row, Dariel Alvarez would get on base after Hill made an error fielding Alvarez's ground ball. Reimold would keep up the pressure by working a walk to bring up Manny Machado. Down 2-0, the Orioles needed a big play from their young superstar, but he couldn't deliver. Machado struck out to end the inning.
Somehow, things got worse in the bottom of the sixth. Pedroia would start with a walk before Bogaerts got an infield single. David Ortiz, who has a pretty good record against Gausman, hit a deep shot to right field that Alvarez almost caught. I don't know if anyone could've caught it...it was close. But Alvarez couldn't catch up, the ball dropped, and Ortiz ended up on second while Pedroia and Bogaerts scored to make it 4-0 Red Sox. That play knocked Gausman out of the game and brought in McFarland. There were times in this game it looked like Gausman had his good stuff, but he couldn't find it when it mattered most. McFarland got two quick outs, but Brock Holt was able to hit a low liner down the third base line that scored Ortiz. 5-0 Red Sox.
Jason Garcia replaced McFarland with one out in the seventh and ended the inning by getting two strikeouts. I know Garcia has actually been better since coming off the DL, but there's a part of me that still doesn't want to see him. I think there's a part of me that will always see him as a symbol of the 2015 season when the Orioles tried to repeat their 2014 success by outsmarting themselves.
Brian Matusz replaced Garcia with one out and a man on in the eighth. Do I even need to tell you who he was brought in to face? I don't. I've seen this move backfire before, and tonight was no different. Ortiz hit his third double of the night, this one off the Green Monster to score Bogaerts. 6-0 Red Sox. Oh, but Matusz wasn't done. Holt got an infield hit to score Rutledge. 7-0 Red Sox. Somehow, Matusz remained in the game. Against the right-handed Sandy Leon no less. He struck him out, but the damage was done. Again.
Rich Hill came out for the ninth inning. He hadn't allowed a hit since Reimold singled in the first at-bat of the game. Dariel Alvarez managed to single to leadoff the inning. Next, Reimold struck out. Manny came up and grounded to second, which resulted in Alvarez being out, but Manny was safe at first. That brought up Chris Davis. Davis has been robbed of more than a couple home runs this season, but it seemed the baseball gods didn't think that was enough. He knocked a pitch from Hill very deep, and on most nights it would've been a home run. Mookie Betts had other ideas though - he jumped over the bullpen wall to grab it and save the shutout for Rich Hill. Of course.
Maybe tomorrow night the Orioles will have more success, when instead of a scheduled starter they'll face a bullpen start from the Red Sox. Can't be any worse than tonight.