The 2019 Baltimore Orioles are a very bad baseball team. You know this. I know this. We all know this, right?
Yet sometimes, for the briefest of moments, we let that fact slip out of our minds. We dare to hope for good things. We come down with a cautious case of, dare I say it, optimism. We allow ourselves to dream that, perhaps today, the Orioles can accomplish something positive.
And then the Orioles rudely rouse us with a bucket of cold water, blundering and stumbling and reminding us that they are, in the end, a very bad baseball team.
Perhaps no game was more emblematic of the debacle that is the 2019 Orioles than this game, in which the O’s built a huge 6-0 lead and then coughed up 13 unanswered runs. And perhaps no inning was more emblematic than the bottom of the sixth at Fenway Park.
The Orioles entered the frame with a 6-3 cushion. Starter Ty Blach had thrown five solid innings. And within a matter of minutes, a series of grotesque calamities unfolded that quickly flipped the game on its head.
Blach gave up a double and a walk to finish his afternoon with one out. It was time for the Orioles’ bullpen got involved, which, of course, spelled immediate disaster. Gabriel Ynoa, summoned to face one hitter, coughed up a double to Christian Vazquez that plated a run and put two men in scoring position. Goodbye Ynoa, hello Paul Fry.
And then the O’s defense got involved. Fry got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to lift a shallow pop-up to left that, had a good team been in the field, would’ve resulted in an easy second out and no run scoring. But never underestimate the pervasive ineptitude that is the 2019 Orioles. Renato Nunez, a bad defensive third baseman, got twisted around as he went back on it. Jace Peterson, an infielder masquerading as a left fielder, broke in hesitantly instead of calling for the ball. Shortstop Jonathan Villar, pulled to the right side of the bag on the shift, couldn’t get there in time. The ball fell in untouched.
Making matters worse, Villar’s throw home deflected off the glove of cutoff man Chris Davis and bounded to the backstop, allowing not one but two runners to score on the play. Just like that, it was a tie game. That, my friends, is an embarrassing way to give up a lead. Adding injury to insult, catcher Chance Sisco got clipped by a runner and was on the ground for a long while.
Things only got worse. After a strikeout, Fry walked Mookie Betts and gave up a Rafael Devers RBI double off the Monster. Then, on a full count, Xander Bogaerts fouled a ball that hit poor Sisco in a most unfortunate spot. After lying crumpled on the ground in pain for several minutes, Sisco ultimately left the game. It was a rough inning for old Chance, even worse than for the rest of his team.
After a long delay, Bogaerts poked Fry’s next pitch up the middle; Hanser Alberto fielded but had no play at first, bringing home Betts from third. Next, with Shawn Armstrong on the mound, J.D. Martinez tapped a bouncer to the right side. Davis fielded and wanted to throw to second, but nobody was covering the bag because of the defensive shift. Davis turned to first, but it was too late to nab Martinez. Devers scored on the gift infield single. I can’t tell how much of this disastrous inning was bad luck and how much was just the Orioles doing typical Orioles things. It’s a potent combination of despair.
By the time Armstrong struck out Sam Travis to strand the bases loaded, the Red Sox had sent 12 batters to the plate against four O’s pitchers, scored six runs, stroked six hits, drawn three walks, and taken advantage of one error and several other misplays. They led, 9-6. What fun this season is!
That sixth inning undid solid early work by the O’s offense, which tagged starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-again Nathan Eovaldi for five runs in his return to the Red Sox rotation. In the first, with two runners aboard, Nunez thought he’d drawn a walk on a 3-1 pitch, only to be summoned back to first when the umpire called a strike. That worked out pretty well for the Orioles. On the next pitch, Nunez clobbered a mammoth blast high over the Green Monster, delivering the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
Trey Mancini added a two-run single in the second, extending the lead to 5-0, and Eovaldi was finished after two ugly innings. Darwinzon Hernandez was naturally selected to replace him, and he too allowed a run on a Hanser Alberto two-out RBI double in the third, making it a 6-0 game.
If you felt confident in the Orioles holding that lead at Fenway Park with seven innings still to play, well, congratulations on watching your first-ever Orioles game. Soon you’ll learn what the rest of us already know.
The Sox began to chip away against Blach, who stranded a runner apiece in the first and second. The third inning began with a walk and a double, followed by a pair of infield groundouts that plated both runs. With the small ball out of the way, the Sox went the more conventional home run route for their third run, courtesy of Travis’s solo homer in the fourth. The lead was shaved in half, 6-3.
Blach rebounded for a scoreless fifth. And then the sixth inning began, and, well, we know how that turned out.
The Orioles, thoroughly and utterly demoralized, limped to the finish from that point on. Armstrong coughed up another four runs in the seventh, which included a Devers two-run homer, the second allowed by the Birds in the game. They’re now just four gopher balls away from breaking the all-time major league record of 258 held by the 2016 Reds. They’ll accomplish the feat on their upcoming homestand. Get your tickets now!
Meanwhile, the O’s offense went silent against a parade of Red Sox pitchers. After Hernandez left, the Birds were held scoreless from the fourth inning through the eighth, each of which was pitched by a different hurler (including a scoreless seventh from former Oriole Andrew Cashner). They plated a meaningless run in the ninth off Travis Lakins, but that was it.
A humiliating 13-7 loss was in the books, and the O’s completed an 0-7 road trip through New York and Boston. Kind of feels like a complete waste of time, huh?