If you didn’t know already, the Red Sox are a much better team than the Orioles. That was proven to a further extent tonight at Camden Yards, where Boston came in and stomped Baltimore 9-0 to complete the three-game sweep.
The win puts the BoSox on the doorstep of the playoffs. Surely they would get in no matter what, but if the Angels lose later tonight, it will officially clinch Boston’s spot in the postseason.
Sale-ing through the game
Chris Sale was the main story in this one, because of course he was. He’s a Cy Young contender that strikes out hitters for fun, and the O’s are a free-swinging team. What could go wrong?
You need not look any farther than his final line: 8.0 innings, four hits, no runs, no walks and 13 (!!!) strikeouts, including his 300th of the season. He is the first AL pitcher to reach that mark since Pedro Martinez in 1999. Yeah, he’s real good.
The Birds never really got all that close to scoring with the cobbled together lineup they trotted out to face Sale. Uh, J.J. Hardy hit a long fly down the left field line in the sixth inning, but it went foul, and then he struck out, so that doesn’t really count. Trey Mancini led off the seventh inning with a double and then an Adam Jones single gave the O’s runners on the corners with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts for Welington Castillo and Mark Trumbo put an end to that threat.
On the flip side of things, Boston had its way with the Baltimore pitching staff, including starter Wade Miley. We could go through all of the ways the Red Sox scored their runs, but does it really matter? You can read a box score, right?
Miley struggled with his control (shocker!), walking four in 4.1 innings of work, and couldn’t keep the ball in the park, allowing a pair of two-run homers.
The only real standout from the bullpen was Mike Wright. He relieved Miley in the fifth inning and did allow his inherited runners to score, but then struck out two hitters to end the frame and went on to toss 2.2 “scoreless” innings with a walk and three strikeouts. Wright should be a regular part of the bullpen picture next summer.
The kids are alright
Tanner Scott was handed his Major League debut and did exactly what you should expect to see from him. His fastball was 98-100 mph, he got a strikeout, walked two and allowed two runs. He was undoubtedly amped up for his debut, and should be better than that, but he is a wild card. The flamethrower still needs some fine tuning.
Jimmy Yacabonis was given an inning as well. He’s been fantastic in September, but struggled in this one by allowing a run on two hits in his frame of work.
It appears manager Buck Showalter has made it his mission to take a long look at the young guys down the stretch. Austin Hays got another start, but had a tough night (0-for-4 with two strikeouts). Trey Mancini had Sale figured out, going 2-for-4. And both Chance Sisco and Anthony Santander notched ninth-inning, pinch hit singles, so that’s something.
Without a doubt, that was the B-squad tonight. Manny Machado didn’t play. tim Beckham didn’t play. The choices out of the bullpen were not exactly “win at all costs” picks. The white flag has officially been wavde in the Charm City, and it’s a serious bummer to get blown out by the Red Sox in historical fashion (Sale’s K’s)
But the kids give O’s fans a reason to watch the final week and a half of the season. Wright, Scott and Yacabonis are all bullpen options for next year. Hays, Sisco and Santander are playing for roles on the big club in 2018.
These games don’t matter in the standings, but they do matter for the future of this team. They could be the difference in whether or Dan Duquette needs to go shopping for corner outfielders, or if the youngsters can handle the job. For that reason alone, you should keep watching. But be prepared for some ugly baseball. It’s best to just think of it as growing pains.
The O’s now have a record of 73-80, and they begin the final home series of the season on Thursday. It’s a four-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays. Gabriel Ynoa (1-2, 4.18 ERA) gets the ball for the Birds. Tampa will counter with righty Matt Andriese (5-3, 4.44 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.