Except for the best college football team in the country each year, no one can win them all. That doesn’t make it any easier to stomach an Orioles loss, especially when the loss comes in such a brutal fashion, as the Orioles suffered against the Red Sox on Wednesday night.
The chief thing that made for such a bad game was the outing turned in by Kevin Gausman. There may come a day where Gausman lives up to the hopes that the Orioles and their fans have had for him since he was drafted, or at least a day where Gausman is a league average guy. It is not this day.
Despite that, the Orioles went on to make things at least a little bit interesting by game’s end, though they never seriously threatened the Red Sox lead as they went on to lose, 6-4.
With Gausman, who never gets any run support, pitching against knuckleballer Steven Wright, who came into the night leading the American League in ERA, the best you could really hope for was a pitcher’s duel. Wright came ready for a duel. Gausman, unfortunately, did not.
There was no fooling the Red Sox, not for Gausman. They tagged him for seven hits and two walks in three innings of work and he allowed all six Red Sox runs on his watch. When you have a WHIP of 3.00 and an ERA of 18.00 for a particular outing it's fairly safe to say that things did not go well.
A Very Jake Arrieta Inning
The Red Sox got on the board in the second inning. With one out, Gausman tried to nibble against Hanley Ramirez, who barely lifted the bat off of his shoulder as Gausman walked him. With two outs, Chris Young singled and Travis Shaw doubled to plate the game's first run.
This was a run-of-the-mill annoying inning. It was the third inning that was the Arrieta inning. If you haven't blocked Arrieta’s time in Baltimore out of your memory, you recall the kind of thing this means. Cheap little grounders turning into hits sparks a rally and then, suddenly, the meltdown.
It’s not making excuses for Gausman to say that the trouble started with cheap grounders. There's no doubt that the first batter to reach was Mookie Betts on an infield single that dribbled along slow enough that Manny Machado couldn’t field it in time. Another grounder from Dustin Pedroia came up through the middle.
Grounders are good! You want to get grounders. Fewer terrible things happen when the other team hits grounders. This is not universally true.
The next batter, Xander Bogaerts, hit a chopper back up the middle. Choppers are even better than grounders because they probably aren’t going to get out of the infield, whatever happens.
In fact, Gausman very easily could have gloved this chopper and gotten a double play... if he didn't botch the attempt, and, in the process, deflect the ball away from any of the fielders behind him to at least get one out. This, too, was very Orioles Arrieta. Sooner or later he would do something to fail to help himself.
Instead of the bases emptying with two down, there were still two men on, no one out, with the O’s trailing 2-0. Then the final part of the Arrieta: The meltdown. Following this, Gausman gave up a run-scoring single to the Vandal, David Ortiz, before Ramirez walloped a three-run home run over the Green Monster. I guess that’s why Gausman nibbled around him in the second inning.
Just like that, the Orioles were down, 6-0.
O’s hitters vs. the knuckler, Round Two
Uh, well... it didn't go too great. Wright was the victor again. About the only consolation that can be offered is that this time the Orioles did not allow Wright to pitch a complete game against them.
That’s going to happen sometimes, right? As mentioned above, Wright came into the day as the American League leader in ERA, with a 2.09. It's not only the Orioles who have looked awful against this guy. That doesn't make it any more fun to lose but it does make it a bit more understandable. You can’t win them all.
It took until the seventh inning for the Orioles to really get something going against Wright. Before then, they only had three at-bats with a runner in scoring position. There were not many chances.
In the seventh, with the Orioles seemingly mired in a hopeless 6-0 deficit, Joey Rickard reached on a single with one out. Turning over the order for the fourth time through, Adam Jones rocked a pitch into the Green Monster seats to finally get the Orioles on the board. His 12th home run made the score 6-2.
A one-out walk to Chris Davis in the eighth inning is what finally chased Wright from the game. The Red Sox summoned reliever Junichi Tazawa, who retired Mark Trumbo before running into some trouble.
Matt Wieters kept the rally going by ripping a double into the right field corner, scoring Davis. This third run was charged to Wright and ensures that Wright will not be the AL ERA leader at night's end - he falls behind Cleveland’s Danny Salazar. Take that!
No, it's not much of a moral victory. Nor is the fact that Jonathan Schoop laced an opposite field single to score the fourth Orioles run and briefly bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Joey Rickard. He flew out and the Orioles went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Game over, man.
There were no Orioles heroes today, sung or unsung, but give some credit all the same to Odrisamer Despaigne, Brian Duensing, and Dylan Bundy for chewing up the game’s final five innings without allowing any runs, keeping the Orioles sorta in the contest. If only Gausman hadn't gone full Orioles Arrieta in that third inning, they would have gotten somewhere.
The loss sends the Orioles back into a tie for the AL East lead with the Red Sox. The series - and the division lead, for now - will be settled with a rubber game on Thursday night at 7:10. The scheduled starters are Tyler Wilson and Eduardo Rodriguez.