This is why we can’t have nice things.
One night ago, the Orioles finally won a game away from Baltimore for the first time in more than a month, snapping a 13-game road losing streak that tied the longest in franchise history. For once, they resembled a competent all-around team, getting a strong offensive performance, a quality start from a hurler, and some clutch outs from the bullpen to nail down the victory. While it may not have been enough to salvage the season, it at least offered hope that the O’s could gather some momentum and string together a couple of road wins in a row.
That hope evaporated quickly, like so many Dylan Bundy home run balls into the Boston night.
The Orioles returned to their losing ways on the road with a 6-3 defeat at Fenway on Saturday night. The Orioles weren’t exactly blown out, but — as has often been the case this season — they simply came up a day late and a dollar short.
Taking the loss was Bundy, the Orioles’ erstwhile ace whose outings this season have fluctuated from brilliant to horrendous with almost nothing in between. Well, tonight was in between. At times, Bundy looked unhittable, racking up eight strikeouts in six innings against the difficult-to-whiff Red Sox lineup. But when he was hittable, boy, did they hit it a long way.
Bundy gave up five hits tonight — and all five of them were for extra bases. Not a cheapie in the bunch. Two were doubles that banged off the Green Monster; the other three went quite a bit higher. In the fourth inning, Rafael Devers lofted an opposite-field blast over the Monster for Boston’s first run.
One inning later, Mookie Betts, destroyer of all things Orioles, came to the plate with a man aboard. MASN’s Gary Thorne has been pleading all series, “Don’t pitch to him.” And he has a point. Betts has dominated the Orioles like few others, not just this season but throughout his career. He’s a lifetime .290 hitter with an .884 OPS against the Orioles, including 13 homers, his most against any opponent. In 2016, Betts set a Camden Yards record for homers by a visiting player with eight home runs that year. And already this series, he was 6-for-9 with two doubles and a homer entering tonight.
With first base open, the Orioles chose to pitch to him. They faced dire consequences for their hubris. Betts crushed a no-doubter home run into the Monster seats off Bundy, giving the Red Sox a 3-1 lead. Don’t pitch to him!
Then again, the next batter, Andrew Benintendi, also parked a homer off Bundy. So maybe walking Betts wouldn’t have solved anything. But still.
That was all the offense the Red Sox needed. Rick Porcello tossed a quality start for Boston, striking out nine batters in six innings. The Orioles scratched across three runs, the first on a third-inning Jonathan Schoop sac fly and the next two on a Pedro Alvarez homer in the sixth, but they didn’t hold a lead past the fourth inning.
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Chris Davis struck out in all four at-bats tonight. He’s batting .166 with a .513 OPS and is on pace for 216 strikeouts. Only four and a half more years of that contract, everyone!
The game also included a discouraging seventh-inning appearance from Tanner Scott, who until tonight had been putting up pretty impressive numbers. Scott, the often control-challenged lefty who had a galling 6.5 walks-per-nine rate in his minor league career, had issued only one free pass in nine innings for the Orioles this season. But that changed quickly against the patient Red Sox bats.
Scott walked .208 hitter Sandy Leon on five pitches to start the inning, then threw four consecutive balls to .161 hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. Against Betts, Scott fell behind 3-0 before getting a very generous strike call on what should’ve been ball four. He battled back to retire Betts on a flyout, but Benintendi singled two runs home to extend the Red Sox lead to 6-3.
The game ended by that score. Sox relievers Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel each worked a perfect inning, racking up four strikeouts between them, to close the book on the Orioles. The O’s are now 4-18 on the road this year and 14-31 overall. They’ll look to avoid their seventh road series loss in the finale of the four-game set on Sunday.