Leave it to the Orioles offense to be shut down by one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball. Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi has had two outings this season in which he has allowed just one run; both came against the O’s.
The only real trouble that Eovaldi faced all night came in the very first inning. The O’s had runners on first and second with one out and later loaded the bases with two outs. But they failed to drive any of those runners home, and that would prove to be to their detriment.
Meanwhile, Asher Wojciechowski put together the type of outing you have come to expect from the long-haired hurler.
Wojciechowski tap danced around a pair of singles in the top of the first inning without allowing a run (with some help from Anthony Santander’s glove). He couldn’t do the same in the second. Christian Vazquez singled and Kevin Pillar walked to open the frame. Each of them would later come home, first Vazquez on a Jose Peraza single, and then Pillar on an Alex Verdugo ground out.
That 2-0 lead for the BoSox would grow in the third inning. Xander Bogaerts smacked his fifth home run of the season just beyond the left field fence to give them a three-run cushion.
Wojciechowski would be removed the next inning after recording two more outs and allowing a final pair of hits. It wasn’t the big right-hander’s finest outing. Over 3.2 innings he allowed three runs on seven hits, a walk and four strikeouts. He kept the O’s in the game, but was far from dominating his competition.
For what it’s worth, the Orioles offense wasn’t doing much to support their starter. Between the second and sixth innings, the O’s managed to move just one runner past first base and none beyond second base. That’s not a recipe for success.
It was Pat Valaika who would finally get the Orioles on the board with his third homer of the year, a solo shot to right-center field in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Valaika’s bomb would represent the only blemish on Eovaldi’s night. Boston’s de facto ace had his best start of the season. Over seven innings he allowed just the one run on five hits, a walk and six strikeouts. His season ERA has now settled under five to 4.98.
To their credit, the O’s bullpen would keep things close...at least, for a while.
Dillon Tate was the first out of the ‘pen. He cleaned up Wojciechowski’s fourth-inning mess and would go on to toss 2.1 scoreless innings and strike out three in the process. It was a much better outing than his season debut against the Blue Jays earlier in the week. Travis Lakins Sr. took his turn next. He contributed 1.1 scoreless innings, allowed one hit, a walk and struck out one.
Then, things went down hill.
Tanner Scott, who had been nearly perfect on the year, struggled for the first time. He retired the first two hitters he faced to finish the eighth inning, but he returned for the ninth inning and couldn’t do the same. Scott walked Verdugo and then gave up a weak single to Rafael Devers to end his night.
Miguel Castro trotted in from centerfield. He induced a ground ball off the bat of J.D. Martinez before a Bogarts single drove in Verdugo, and then a Mitch Moreland home run brought everyone else in to score. When it was all said and done the O’s trailed 7-1.
The O’s bats were unable to muster much of a challenge against the Red Sox relievers. Ryan Brasier retired Hanser Alberto, Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez in order in the eighth inning. Phillips Valdez did the same against Pedro Severino, Rio Ruiz and major league debutant Ramon Urias in the ninth inning to close out the win.
It was a tough night for the Orioles offense. They struck out 10 times and managed just five hits against a bad Red Sox pitching staff. On the positive side of things, Santander singled in the first inning to extend his hit streak to 15 games. There wasn’t much of note to happen apart from that.
The Orioles now own a 12-13 record and find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture for the first time in a week. That’s unfortunate, but they have three more games this weekend against a suspect Red Sox squad.
These two sides will meet again on Friday. John Means (0-1, 10.57 ERA) takes the mound for the O’s, although he is likely to be on a strict pitch count once again. As of this writing the Red Sox have not yet announced a starter. Regardless, first pitch is set for 7:35 p.m. from Camden Yards.