The Orioles and Red Sox faced off in the final game of this four-game series and it went just as you might predict a game with Chris Sale facing the Orioles. Their only run scored on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and they otherwise were very quiet at the plate in the 4-1 loss.
There are always multiple factors that contribute to a loss, but this time the starting pitching was not one of them. Alex Cobb continued his strong run of games with seven innings of two-run baseball. Only one of the runs was earned, and Cobb lowered his ERA to 5.31. That is still high, of course, but it’s now down 1.44 since July began. It’s a nice trend!
It looked in the first inning like maybe it wouldn’t be Cobb’s day. With two outs, Steve Pearce took him very deep for a solo home run. Our old friend Steve has been on fire since joining the Red Sox and today was just a continuation of that. He reached again later in the game as one of the two walks issued by Cobb.
The other run Cobb allowed came in the fourth inning, courtesy of our new right fielder Adam Jones. With one out a Brock Holt on first base, J.D. Martinez looped a ball down the right field line. Jones did not get to the ball very quickly in the first place, then when he tried to field it he bobbled the ball. Holt had been stopping at third until the bobble.
Martinez doubled again in the sixth inning, after the previously mentioned Pearce walk. But Cobb worked out of that jam without allowing a run. All in all a very successful game for him. His final pitching line was 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.
Now, let’s spend some time running down what the Orioles were able to do against Red Sox starter Chris Sale. In the third inning, Renato Nunuz singled with no outs. He was stranded at first as Sale bounced back to strike out the next three batters. That’s it!
Before the game we were told that Sale would be limited to about 100 pitches due to this being his first start after spending time on the disabled list. He actually came out after five innings having thrown only 68. He struck out 12 Orioles and didn’t walk a single one.
The Orioles looked in the sixth inning like they might bounce back with Sale out of the game, but they did not. They did get some base runners, which was a nice change of pace. With two outs, Joey Rickard singled off the new pitcher, Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg then walked both Jonathan Villar and Adam Jones to load the bases. He was then pulled from the game.
Trey Mancini put up a good fight against the new pitcher, Ryan Brasier, but ultimately struck out on the ninth pitch of the at bat.
After the Orioles had a 1-2-3 seventh inning, Mancini had another chance. Cedric Mullins started the inning by using his speed to beat out an infield hit. With one out, Villar singled and Jones walked for a second time to again load the bases for Mancini. Down by two runs in the eighth inning, it really would have been great if Trey could have gotten a hit.
Instead he hit a sacrifice fly, which wasn’t a terrible outcome but really not enough. Mullins scored easily on the fly ball to center field, but Tim Beckham struck out to end the rally and the inning.
Mychal Givens had relieved Cobb in the eighth inning and he looked like the Givens we loved last year. He came back for the ninth with the Orioles holding onto a glimmer of hope that they might be able to come back in the bottom of the inning. But that hope disappeared as the Red Sox scored two insurance runs.
Eduardo Nunez singled to start the ninth and then, with one out, stole second base. Givens got a pop out from Sandy Leon, but number nine hitter Jackie Bradley, Jr. continued his domination of the Orioles with an opposite field single that knocked in Nunez. Mookie Betts followed that with a double to right field. Jones looked like he should have been able to cut it off but he didn’t, allowing Bradley to score from first.
That was it for Givens. Tanner Scott came in and got the final out. The Orioles made some noise against closer Craig Kimbrel, resulting in the ailing Mark Trumbo coming to the plate with two outs representing the tying run. But Trumbo struck out to end the game. He was not our hero today.
Orioles lose, 4-1. They have a blessed off day tomorrow followed by a two-game series with the Mets starting Tuesday.