Tonight in Boston, the Orioles had to face off against a team that was 59.5 games better than them.
I’ll say that again: FIFTY-NINE AND A HALF GAMES BETTER.
I mean, what did you think was going to happen?
The Orioles lost, obviously, because why wouldn’t they? They don’t belong on the same field as the Red Sox. They don’t belong in the same league as the Red Sox. It’s often hard to tell whether they’re even playing the same sport as the Red Sox.
By the end of the night, the Orioles were 60.5 games behind Boston in the AL East. By the end of this three-game series, the O’s may well be 62.5 games back. According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, no team has finished the season more than 61 games out since 1942. The modern MLB record is 65.5 games out, set by the 1909 Boston Doves, a team you’ve probably never heard of because it was 109 freaking years ago. (In case you’re curious, they were an early iteration of the Boston Braves, who eventually became the Atlanta Braves.)
The Orioles could certainly match or break that record if they go winless in their final week while the Red Sox continue to dominate. So the Birds have a chance to accomplish something that hasn’t been done since the Taft administration. What a time to be alive!
If you thought the Red Sox, having already clinched the AL East, would take pity on the Orioles and rest their regulars, you thought wrong. The Sox still had something to play for, after all. Not only were they one win away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but they also were one win away from setting a Red Sox franchise record for victories (which had been held by the 1912 Red Sox, who were 105-47).
The Red Sox, therefore, brought their full arsenal to tonight’s contest, with Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and all the rest of their usual starters in the lineup. Let’s just say those guys brought a little more firepower than their Orioles counterparts.
It didn’t take long for the Red Sox to put the game out of reach — two innings, in fact. Dylan Bundy, coming off two straight quality starts, reverted to Bad Dylan Bundy tonight. Having already labored for 25 pitches in a scoreless first inning, Bundy slogged through 34 more in an interminable second.
With one out, back-to-back doubles by Steve Pearce and Brock Holt brought home Boston’s first run, and Christian Vazquez singled in another. This being Dylan Bundy, he couldn’t let a game go by without coughing up a home run, and so Mookie Betts did the honors with a prodigious clout over the Green Monster. It was Betts’ 32nd, and the major-league worst 39th given up by Bundy. And that doesn’t even count the three homers Bundy gave up to the Red Sox in a game that was washed out by rain in July.
Bundy stuck it out for one more inning, throwing 31 pitches in a scoreless third, before his night was done. It took him 90 pitches to get through three innings, in which he gave up four runs to inflate his ERA to 5.49. We’ll see if he makes one more start in the Orioles’ final series against Houston.
With the Birds already down 4-0, the game was all but over, with the club heading toward its 61st road loss of the year. So let’s take a moment to reflect on some truly astonishing and cringeworthy facts from that Jayson Stark article. If the Orioles lose their two remaining road games, they’ll finish the season with the most losses on the road for an AL team since 1945. Hey, at least that was within the past 100 years, so we’re making progress! The O’s, happily, cannot tie the modern AL record for road losses (64 by the 1916 Philadelphia A’s), but they sure can come close.
The Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the fourth off a perpetually overmatched Donnie Hart, though their scoring stopped there thanks to an impressive four shutout innings of long relief by Sean Gilmartin. Kudos, Sean Gilmartin. Thank you for showing up tonight.
Down by six, the O’s couldn’t rally back. Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 batters in five innings, giving up just one run on a fifth-inning wild pitch, and the Red Sox bullpen took it from there. The Orioles mounted a brief threat in the eighth by loading the bases off Joe Kelly, but after an Adam Jones sac fly scored one run, Jonathan Villar got picked off first base to end the inning. Sheesh. Villar has overall been a boon to the Orioles since they acquired him, but his near-daily baserunning blunders are a black mark on his ledger.
The Red Sox closed things out with an easy ninth, finishing a 6-2 win and securing their franchise record 106th victory.
The Orioles will end the season with less than half that many.