The 2016 Orioles are known for their power, but tonight it was the Red Sox who brought the boomsticks. Before I really had time to comprehend what was going on tonight, Kevin Gausman surrendered two dingers. As I was finishing my dinner, another ball left the field and the game was quickly out of hand.
Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts hit one to left-center on the second pitch of the game. Three pitches later, Dustin Pedroia sent one over the wall. And after two walks in the second inning, Betts homered again, tucking an inside fastball around the left-field foul pole and putting the Orioles in a deep 5-0 hole. All three dingers came on fastballs inside. To my eye, Gausman was trying to hit the outside third of the plate and failing, so hitters were able to look inside on the heater.
The Orioles answered back against former prospect and Andrew Miller trade-bait Eduardo Rodriguez. In the bottom of the 3rd, Joey Rickard, now seemingly officially part of a platoon with Hyun-Soo Kim, singled to lead things off. Paul Janish popped out and Adam Jones flew out, but then Nolan Reimold doubled to deep right-center. Rickard scored standing up to make it 5-1.
Manny Machado then hit a long fly ball that looked good off the bat and chased centerfielder Chris Young deep, deep, deep to the 410 sign on the left-center wall. It looked like a sure double, maybe a home run, but Young was able to run it down for the last out of the inning. If nothing else, it was an indication that the Orioles were starting to see Rodriguez better the second time through the order.
Gausman settled down after that. After a Travis Shaw double in the third, no Red Sox reached base until Hanley Ramirez reached in the bottom of the 6th. He nubbed a ball in no-man’s land between the mound and third that Gausman had to leap and stretch to glove. His throw to Chris Davis sailed high and wide and Ramirez was safe. But Shaw, Young, and Blake Swihart went down in order to end the inning.
Gausman’s final line was 6 IP, 5 H, 8K, 2 BB, 3 HR. I take solace in those eight K’s, six of which came after the Orioles were down by 5. After the disastrous first two innings I didn’t think he’d go six. So that’s good. But there’s no ignoring the three dingers, especially not on the heels of his last start in which he also gave up three bombs. Gausman simply didn’t pitch well tonight.
In the bottom of the 5th the Orioles struck again. With two outs, light-hitting Janish worked the count full and then doubled into the right-center gap. He motored home on a 1-0 single by Adam Jones, cutting the deficit to 5-2. However Betts, batting in the top of the 7th, erased that run with his third bomb of the game, this one an opposite-field shot off of Dylan Bundy.
But that was about it for the Orioles offense. The most fun came in the 6th when Orioles batters swung at literally every pitch. It got Machado a double, but Davis, Trumbo, and Wieters couldn’t make it work for them.
Paul Janish bailed out a struggling Dylan Bundy by diving and snaring a hard-hit liner and getting the last out of the top of the 8th. In the bottom half Chris Davis hit a HUUUUUUGE home run, like thirty feet over the top of the right-field foul pole, off Koji Uehara. At least that’s what Gary Thorne would have had you believe; the umpires ruled it foul and there it stayed upon review. The almost-bomb would’ve made the score 6-4 but would have been nice nonetheless. Naturally, Davis struck out instead.
The Orioles drop to 28-22 and fall three back of the Red Sox, who move to 32-20. Meanwhile the Blue Jays lurk at five games back. Tomorrow night sees the series continues with Mike Wright scheduled to face Joe Kelly.