The Orioles put on another disappointing show tonight, falling to the Red Sox for the second straight night. There was some anticipation in the air with Zac Lowther on the mound for his first big league start, but it turned out the best part of the day was the pre-game ceremony for John Means. The pitching was bad, the defense was sloppy, and the offense was too little too late.
It’s always exciting when a prospect makes a debut. Zac Lowther had already gotten his major league debut out of the way with an inning pitched in relief, but he is a starting pitcher and so his starting debut is much more exciting. After seeing how it went, though, I’m happy for Lowther’s sake that he had that debut in relief that went so well. Because this game did not.
It started off well enough. He gave up a one-out single to Alex Verdugo and the next two batters hit the ball pretty hard but they were outs, so all was well. For a few minutes anyway, because it all went to hell starting in the second inning.
Lowther issued a one-out walk to Christian Vazquez, then Marwan Gonzalez hit a ball to the right-center field gap. DJ Stewart did a good job cutting the ball off but his throw back into second was a poor one. It took a nasty hop that Freddy Galvis couldn’t handle, and Vazquez scored on the error. An RBI single and a two-run homer later and the Red Sox had a lead they would not relinquish.
Things didn’t get better for Lowther in the third inning. An infield hit and a walk set up another RBI single. He did then get the first out via strikeout, but regardless, his night was over. Brandon Hyde emerged from the dugout waving the white flag, er, I mean, calling for Shawn Armstrong from the bullpen.
Armstrong has had a tough go of things so far this year, and he did not redeem himself tonight. He allowed both of Lowther’s runs to score, and then went on to give up two runs of his own in the fourth inning.
It wasn’t a great night for Lowther, for sure. Maybe it’ll turn out that he doesn’t have what it takes to play in the majors. Maybe it’ll turn out that he has a fine career. There’s no way to know from this start, even if we had all wished it had gone better. He’s the fifth-best pitching prospect in the O’s system for a reason, and those reasons didn’t go away because he had a tough time tonight.
I hope he gets another chance rather than being sent back down, but even if he doesn’t we’ll see him again later this year.
Finally in the fifth inning the Orioles were able to stop the Red Sox from scoring, courtesy of Travis Lakins. Tyler Wells followed Lakins and things didn’t start out well as he gave up a big two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts, but he settled down and ended up pitching two innings with no further damage.
It’s hard to believe, but the Orioles actually did have a lead in this game. They played some small ball in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Cedric Mullins sped his way to an infield hit, stole second, went to third on a groundout by Trey Mancini, and scored on a DJ Stewart single.
They added a second run in the second inning on a dinger from Freddy Galvis, but then the bats took a siesta against Red Sox starter Garrett Richards. While Boston’s offense was pouring it on, Baltimore’s stayed quiet. That was, until the the sixth inning, when they finally decided to make some noise.
Back-to-back doubles down the left field line by Austin Hays and Trey Mancini started things off and got a run on the board. A walk by Stewart kept things going, and after Ryan Mountcastle struck out, Ramon Urias singled to score Mancini.
The fun would have kept going if it weren’t for a fantastic play by Bogaerts at shortstop. Maikel Franco hit a rocket that looked headed for the outfield for sure. But Bogaerts somehow snagged it as it was taking a nasty hop and started a double play to end the inning. It’s not like the Orioles were going to come back, but it was fun watching the offense do something! Then Bogaerts had to ruin it.
There was a bit of excitement in the ninth inning in both halves of the inning. In top half, Pat Valaika pitched! Position players pitching are less rare these days, but it’s still fun. Valaika should have had a perfect inning but Urias booted the first ground ball he saw.
In the bottom half, Red Sox pitcher Austin Brice decided to be terrible. He got two outs but he also hit two batters and walked one to load the bases. Hays smashed a single past the first baseman to knock in two runs, driving Brice from the game. But before we could get our hopes up, the new pitcher struck out Mancini on three pitches to end the game.
Orioles lose, 11-6. There are two more games in this series. Maybe the Orioles will win one?