The Orioles lost their fourth in a row and their eighth in their last nine attempts. A slow start for the offense and a poor showing by the bullpen spelled disaster as the O’s fell 6-4 to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night.
David Hess started for the O’s in this one, and his final line looks pretty solid. He came one out from recording a “quality start.” Over 5.2 innings, the right-hander allowed three runs on six hits, three strikeouts and no walks. With the way the rest of the pitching staff has performed, manager Brandon Hyde would love to get that type of production from the rest of his hurlers. So, we really can’t complain.
But Hess also left more than a few pitches in the middle of the plate. As you would expect from a lineup as talented as the Red Sox, they got hit pretty hard. When Hess was removed in the sixth inning, he had allowed the 11 hardest hit balls of the game, according to Statcast.
Many of those barreled swings did some damage, but the O’s starter got a little luck as well. J.D. Martinez was victimized twice, flying out in the first inning on a swing with an expected batting average of .960 and a runner on second base, and then again in the fourth inning with a runner on first. If hits like that did find the hole they deserved, Hess would be looking back at a much different performance.
As it is, Hess was steady. He avoided any free passes and stayed competitive. The first run he allowed came off of an Andrew Benintendi solo shot in the bottom of the third inning. He served up two more runs in the next frame. First, Xander Bogaerts doubled in Mitch Moreland from first, and then Bogaerts himself came home on an Eduardo Nunez single a few batters later.
Meanwhile, the Orioles offense was doing nothing to support their pitcher. Literally, the O’s did not have a single baserunner through the first 4.2 innings of the game. Eduardo Rodriguez had a perfect game going until Hanser Alberto broke things up with a single to left field.
The Birds would remain without a run until the seventh inning. That is when they took advantage of a rare error by Mookie Betts in right field. Technically, it will go down as a Trey Mancini double, but Betts misread the ball and should have made a fairly routine catch. Instead, he set the stage for Dwight Smith Jr. to hit his second home run of the season and make it a 3-2 game.
The Baltimore bats weren’t done just yet, but the bullpen was unable to keep the Red Sox at bay.
Paul Fry came on in relief of Hess. The lefty finished up the sixth inning but then got into his own trouble in the seventh, allowing back-to-back singles to Christian Vazquez and Benintendi, with a wild pitch in between.
Evan Phillips was the next to jog in from the bullpen. Let’s just say that the Maryland-born reliever had some issues. With Betts batting, Phillips uncorked a wild pitch to allow Vazquez to score Boston’s fourth run of the night.
Phillips returned for the eighth inning, and his struggles continued. He allowed a double to Martinez followed by two infield hits and then a sacrifice fly. When it was all said and done, the Red Sox found themselves up 6-2. After that, it was Mike Wright Jr. time to shine, and he actually pitched fine, inducing a fly out against the one batter that he faced.
A long fly ball by Joey Rickard in the Orioles half of the eighth inning had nearly closed the gap a bit, but it was hit in the general vicinity of Jackie Bradley Jr., which is rarely a recipe for offensive success.
The O’s did draw nearer in the ninth inning. Following a Trey Mancini walk, Renato Nunez launched a bomb over the green monster in left center field to cut the deficit to 6-4. The ball traveled an estimated 450 feet and came off the bat at 112.7 mph, the second-hardest hit ball of the game.
But that is as close as the O’s would get. Ryan Basier entered and earned the save (3) by cleaning fielding an attempted bunt for a hit by Alberto and then inducing a weak line out by the pinch-hitting Chris Davis.
It was one of those games that never truly felt competitive. The Boston pitching staff cruised for most of the night, the Baltimore bullpen was a mess and Davis extended his MLB-record hitless streak by one at-bat.
These two teams will get back together on Saturday afternoon. Lefty John Means (1-1, 2.08) is on the mound to face fellow southpaw David Price (0-1, 6.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 1:05 at Fenway. You can watch the game on MLB Network out of market or on MASN if you live in Birdland.