After contending for a playoff spot for much of the season, the Orioles are now playing like they can’t wait for it to end.
Impressive rookie Dean Kremer couldn’t pull the O’s out of their funk, as the 24-year-old was hit hard, early and often in a 9-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Baltimore is now 23-33, only a game ahead of the Red Sox for last place in the American League East. Wednesday’s loss was the Orioles’ second straight, sixth in seven games and 12th in 15 contests.
Blecch. And this one got ugly fast. Alex Verdugo led off the bottom of the first with a double off the left field wall (aided by a poor angle taken by left fielder D.J. Stewart), and Xander Bogaerts drew a walk one out later.
J.D. Martinez flew to center, putting runners at the corners with two out, but Jackie Bradley Jr. roped a single to right to score Verdugo and make it 1-0 Sox. Kevin Plawecki then chopped a seeing-eye single through the right side, bringing in Bogaerts to make it 2-0.
That inning wasn’t good, but things really went off the rails in the third. Bogaerts led off with a single through the hole between shortstop and third base, and Martinez - hitting only .215, but still J.D. Martinez - smacked a double off the center field wall to score him to make it 3-0.
Kremer got Bradley Jr. to fly out, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Plawecki hit a sinking liner to right that Austin Hays couldn’t catch with a diving effort, and the end result was a triple that scored Martinez to make it 4-0. A chopper to third resulted in the second out, but Michael Chavis hit a double off of the left-field wall to score Bobby Dalbec, and Christian Arroyo drew a walk to chase Kremer.
That summoned Branden Kline, but Verdugo drew another walk to load the bases, and Rafael Devers - 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Kremer - celebrated getting to see another pitcher by lacing a double into the right-field corner, clearing the bases and making it 8-0.
It was an unfortunate return to earth for Kremer (2.2 innings, seven hits, seven runs, two strikeouts), who had gotten off to a terrific start to his major league career. Kremer came into Wednesday’s game with a 1-0 record and 1.69 ERA, and had allowed only one run in each of his three starts.
He didn’t have the answers Wednesday, however, and it was especially costly considering his counterpart on the mound. Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi had already dominated the Orioles in two starts this season, and given a bigger cushion than he could have hoped for, he kept his mastery of the team going. He pitched six innings and allowed seven hits, but he didn’t allow a run, and he punched out eight.
The Orioles’ best chance at getting to the hard-throwing righty came in the second, with the game still within reach at 2-0. Hays rapped a single up the middle with one out, and after a second out Pat Valaika followed with a hard line drive off the wall in left-center field. Bradley Jr.’s throw to second beat the sliding Valaika, but the umpire ruled that Arroyo’s tag missed him, ostensibly giving the Orioles two men in scoring position.
On a night when little went the Orioles’ way, however, this didn’t either, as umpires ruled there was enough evidence in the video replay to overturn the call and rule Valaika out. Instead, Baltimore would wait until the seventh for its first run, when Hays greeted new pitcher Mike Kickham with a home run over the left field wall.
Boston scored its final run in the bottom half of the inning when Bradley Jr. came home on Bruce Zimmermann’s wild pitch, making it 9-1.
Despite the final margin, there were some bright spots. Hays and Valaika had three hits apiece, as did Ryan Mountcastle, who had started to cool at the plate after a hot start to his major league career. And the Orioles actually outhit the Red Sox 11-10, which is always fun.
Am I reaching? Yeah, probably. But hey, it was 9-1. Gotta find the bright in there somewhere.