Waiting around for four and a half hours just to watch the Orioles lose in 11 innings is not fun. A seeing eye single did the Orioles in after a command-challenged Miguel Castro loaded the bases. Before that, a whole lot of stuff went poorly for the Orioles to end up in extra frames against the Red Sox to begin with. When all was said and done, the O’s dropped the opener, 10-8.
When a team scores eight runs and still loses, there’s nobody to blame for that but the pitching staff. There’s plenty of blame to go around, starting, unfortunately, with starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, who was working on extra rest. That wasn’t enough to power him to a good outing on Monday night. Bundy was staked to leads of 5-0 and 6-1 and couldn’t finish the fifth inning. It was a mess.
With the loss, the Orioles have blown their big chance to play spoiler in the AL East race. The Yankees were also winners on Monday, but the O’s just let the Red Sox hold their ground. The Yankees even beat the Twins, so with a win, the O’s might have pushed their elimination from postseason contention a little farther back. But no. Instead, they couldn’t pitch again. Their tragic number is seven.
It’s frustrating to write about this ugliness. There was enough to be excited about in the game that it would be nice to have that be the big story instead. Outfielder Austin Hays showed off how much of a spark plug he can be, driving in two runs with a clutch hustle double, and on two separate occasions, snagging an extra base when a Red Sox fielder made an error.
That part was fun. So were the parts where the Orioles scored eight runs. The rest, not so much.
Entering the fifth inning, Bundy had only allowed three hits, one of which was a bunt single. It wasn’t a flawless outing, but he looked like he was in control. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t. The O’s 6-1 lead evaporated in a hurry as Bundy allowed four singles and a walk in the inning, getting just one out in the fifth and leaving with two men on base.
Lefty Richard Bleier failed in his assigned job of getting out lefty Andrew Benintendi, who singled to load the bases. That’s a tough situation for Mychal Givens to inherit, but still, there’s nothing good to say about Givens giving up a bases-clearing double to not only erase the Orioles lead but put them in a 7-6 hole. Yuck.
The O’s offense battled back immediately. Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez blasted a two-out homer onto the flag court above right field to tie up the game. Hays’s hustle “double” off of an error put the go-ahead in scoring position. Tim Beckham drove in Hays with a double of his own. For a short time, the game was fun again.
Nothing good can last, at least not where the 2017 Orioles are concerned. After Donnie Hart pitched a scoreless sixth inning, the O’s tried to push him into the seventh. Xander Bogaerts led off with a home run into the Orioles bullpen. So much for that lead.
This run is what sent the game into extra innings, although it took tragically un-clutch hitting for the O’s to need extra innings. They had a golden opportunity in their half of the eighth inning. Hays was at it again: He ran hard out of the box on a grounder to Bogaerts, forcing Bogaerts to try to bare-hand the ball. Bogaerts whiffed and Hays ended up on second base with a single after capitalizing on the error.
Go-ahead run in scoring position with the top of the lineup coming up and nobody out? That’s a great situation. Beckham hit a grounder to advance Hays to third base. Anything out of the infield would score Hays! After Manny Machado drew a walk, it would be up to Jonathan Schoop to make something out of it.
Schoop did the one thing he couldn’t do. He struck out. It would take a two out base hit to drive in the run. Adam Jones grounded into a fielder’s choice and that was that for the scoring chance. The Orioles did not get a runner past first base for the rest of the game.
Schoop was 0-6 on the night and 0-4 with runners in scoring position. That’s a bad day at the office indeed, but again: When you give up ten runs, that’s on the pitching staff. The Red Sox, by the way, were 6-12 in RISP opportunities. I winced just typing that.
Castro has been a key part of several Orioles victories this season. In his second inning of work - the 11th - on Monday, things fell apart. He couldn’t throw strikes. That’s all there is to it. With one out, he walked Sandy Leon. After getting a second out, he threw a couple of balls to Bogaerts and the O’s chose to finish it with an intentional walk. Castro then also walked Tzu-Wei Lin to load the bases.
That set up the fatal at-bat against Benintendi. The Sox left fielder put one on the ground that snuck through to the right of Chris Davis and to the left of Schoop. Maybe Davis should have gotten it. He didn’t. Neither did Schoop. Two runs scored. I walked away from the television in disgust.
This should have been a happy game. Alvarez had three hits including his homer. Hays and Beckham had multi-hit games. The Orioles had 11 hits in all and drew seven walks. They took a big lead and they had the Red Sox defense making hilarious (to me) womp-womp plays all game. Then the Orioles just couldn’t pitch. That’s 2017 for you.
The series resumes on Tuesday with a scheduled 7:05 start. Kevin Gausman and Drew Pomeranz are set as the starting pitchers. It will be tough for that game to be worse than this one, but if anyone can find a way to make that happen, it’s the 2017 O’s.