In some ways, today’s game against the Red Sox went just about as expected. Dylan Bundy continued to pitch well, Chris Sale pitched a little better than that, and the Orioles lost 7-2.
What could not be anticipated, but certainly did not come as a surprise, was several defensive miscues by the Orioles. Baltimore failed to make multiple routine plays, and the poor play showed up on the scoreboard. The team was only charged with two errors, but the boneheaded plays were apparent to anyone watching the game.
The Orioles set the tone in the first inning with a runner on first base and one out. JD Martinez popped out to right-center field for the second out. Keon Broxton made the play near Anthony Santander, who also flocked to the ball from right. After making the catch, Broxton appeared to completely forget that he was in the middle of a Major League baseball game.
Broxton began a short conversation and even slapped five with Santander after catching the fly ball. While Broxton was discussing the play he just made, Andrew Benintendi made a play of his own. Benintendi broke for second and reached the bag with ease. All of a sudden, the Red Sox had their first runner in scoring position.
Benintendi did not come around to score, but the play did not bode well for Baltimore’s defense. After the Red Sox broke through in the sixth inning, Baltimore appeared to be on their way out of the inning. Sandy Leon bounced a sharply hit ground ball to third base, but the ball skipped off of Hanser Alberto’s glove and into the outfield.
Third base may be the hot corner, but this ball could have been handled. Alberto failed to shift his body in front of the ball, and did not lower his glove far enough to make the play. The Red Sox tacked on their third run of the game, which seemed significant for a while.
Alberto’s error came after Xander Bogaerts doubled home a run, and Brock Holt plated another with a single that snuck past a diving Jonathan Villar. Bundy had escaped a few jams and came up with a few gigantic strikeouts before falling apart in the sixth. He finished with eight hits and eight K’s through five plus innings.
After Bundy and Sale traded scoreless frames through five, the Orioles also got to Sale in the sixth. Alberto singled after committing the error, and scored Baltimore’s first run on a double by Renato Núñez. Santander worked a walk to load the bases, and Jonathan Villar drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to the warning track. Unfortunately, Broxton could not atone for his mental error, and struck out swinging to end the inning.
Martinez picked up an insurance run with a solo home run in the seventh. The ball left the bat at 108.8 mph and traveled 427 feet to right-center field. The Orioles would not come within a run again.
Shawn Armstrong and Paul Fry combined for a scoreless eighth, but the wheels fell off in the top of the ninth. Mookie Betts worked a lead off walk and Benintendi followed with a single. Rafael Devers and Bogaerts drove in runs, and then Alberto’s glove showed up again.
Alberto was playing up the middle with a runner on second base, and failed to stop a ball only a few feet to his right. Alberto made an awkward diving attempt, and Brock Holt’s grounder trickled into centerfield.
With Devers on third base, Holt broke for second on the first pitch of the next at bat. Pedro Severino’s throw hopped past Alberto and Devers came into score. Michael Chavis grounded out to end the inning, but the game was out of reach. The Orioles went quietly in the ninth.
These are the types of games that are especially difficult to watch. Every fan knows the Birds are rebuilding, and they know that Chris Sale is a better pitcher than Dylan Bundy. But Bundy kept the Orioles in the game, and his defense let him down. The Orioles might have still lost this game if they played perfect defense, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a five-run defeat.
Baltimore will actually have the pitching advantage in the series finale tomorrow afternoon. Rookie sensation John Means will take on Brian Johnson. Johnson will make his first appearance since going on the IL April 6, so the Orioles will likely put Boston’s bullpen to the test.