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Orioles have no answer for Steven Wright's knuckleball in 7-2 loss

Not that the knuckleball problem was the only thing the Orioles had going wrong today.

A baseball team that wants to win a baseball game might want to try to live by a few maxims, including:

  1. Don't let the other team's starter pitch a complete game
  2. Get more than four hits
  3. Give up fewer than seven runs

The Orioles failed at each one of these ideas on a cloudy Memorial Day afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, losing a 7-2 game to those invading northern barbarians, the Boston Red Sox.

From the very first inning, it was apparent the kind of game that the unfortunate Orioles fans watching it would be getting to see. This did not turn out to be a good thing.

Here are two lines from the play-by-play of the game, which happened one right after another.

Pedroia grounded out to shortstop, Betts to second. Bogaerts grounded out to catcher, Betts scored.

You may find yourself wondering how in the world a runner scored from second base on a groundout to the catcher, and that's a fair question to ask. The general answer is, "Because Orioles." The specific answer is that pitcher Tyler Wilson did not cover home plate on the play and Mookie Betts caught him napping and scored. How this happens to a major league team is not a question I can answer.

Theory: Top of the lineup hitters should hit

As much of a clown show as this game was at times, including the Orioles 1-5 hitters going a combined 0 for the entire game, they only trailed 2-0 after Wilson's early rockiness - and they had some chances to score, too, with the bottom of the lineup taking advantage of wildness by knuckleballer Steven Wright to load the bases with two outs.

Nothing happened on that occasion, of course, but it was the bottom of the lineup that came through to tie up the game at 2-2 a few innings later. Nolan Reimold led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Ryan Flaherty double. Flaherty moved up to third on a Caleb Joseph single and scored when Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly.

Although Hyun Soo Kim walked to keep the Orioles with two men on base and only one out, the Manny Machado and Chris Davis duo was unable to make anything happen at this juncture, or in fact at any juncture today.

That tie score was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? For all of the 45 seconds or so it existed, anyway. Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run into the Orioles bullpen, not too far out of the reach of a leaping Jones - but far enough.

This proved to be the decisive run in the contest, since the O's never scored again, or even got any base hits again. Though the home run itself was frustrating right after an O's comeback, Wilson himself had a decent line for the day, spreading eight hits and two walks over 6.2 innings.

That's a quality start, and one that, with this offense, should be good enough to win most games. This is probably still the truth, despite not being at all true today.

The deficit grew when the Red Sox added four runs in the eighth inning. The Vandal, David Ortiz, stood at the plate when the seventh inning ended on a caught stealing. Joseph threw out Bogaerts on the play, though it took the intervention of the replay umpires to arrive at this result.

The upshot is that Ortiz got to see some more pitches from newly-promoted lefty Ashur Tolliver and he really liked one of them, crushing a line drive home run that just kept sailing into the seats next to the out of town scoreboard.

The ninth batter blues

Tolliver remained in the game to face a few lefties in the Boston lineup, but his day ended after he gave up a walk and another hit. Mychal Givens relieved Tolliver, looking to limit the damage and keep the score 4-2. Givens instead gave up a three run home run to Sox third baseman Marco Hernandez.

Not that there is any way to ease the pain of giving up a three run home run, but it doesn't much help that Givens gave up a home run to a guy who combined for 26 home runs in six previous seasons in the minor leagues. It was, naturally, the first career homer for Hernandez, the #9 hitter.

With the loss, the Orioles fall to two games back in the division, though there is silver lining in that they'll have the next three days worth of games to try to gain back some ground.

That's only if they play well, and if they keep hitting like they did today, gaining back ground doesn't seem like it'll go so great. Maybe it'll go better when a knuckleballer isn't pitching? We can dream. Wright racked up the complete game in 122 pitches.

We'll find whether things go better tomorrow when Kevin Gausman gets the start in the second game of the series, which returns to the standard civilized baseball start time of 7:05pm Eastern. The Boston starter is scheduled to be Eduardo Rodriguez, whom you've probably heard was traded by the Orioles to Boston.