The Boston Red Sox have gotten all of the good feelings and positive momentum they could have possibly wanted from this series against the Orioles. Chris Sale looked like his old, dominant self. And the Boston bats appeared to be taking batting practice for much of the afternoon at Fenway Park.
It was a bad day for the Orioles’ pitching staff, in particular Jorge López and Adam Plutko.
López, the starter, had been enjoying his month of August prior to today. Perhaps he had finally turned that corner! Think again. The 28-year-old was dreadful, serving up seven runs on nine hits, two walks, and one strikeout over 3.1 innings. López’s failure to miss bats has become an increasing problem as the summer has worn on, and it was on full display here.
But Plutko was far, far worse. The right-handed reliever was only able to record two outs, but not before giving up seven runs of his own on five hits, including two home runs, and two walks. Entering today, Plutko had allowed the third-most home runs among Oriole pitchers, behind John Means and López, despite throwing about half as many innings as the two starters ahead of him. Plutko’s season ERA is up to 6.71. Performances like that may not lead to a DFA just yet, but it feels like a safe bet to assume the Orioles won’t be offering him arbitration this winter.
What else is there to say on the pitching side of things? Paul Fry came in and got out of López’s jam, but he also allowed one of the inherited runners to score. Cesar Valdez gave up a solo home run, as did Austin Wynns, who came from behind the plate to pitch the ninth inning. At least Dillon Tate tossed a scoreless inning. That’s something.
The Orioles’ pitching staff has been embarrassing for much of the season. This is nothing new. It’s disappointing to see it implode in such dramatic fashion against a division opponent that is fighting for its postseason life, but it’s not surprising in the least.
This game got out of hand quickly, and it wouldn’t have matter much what the Orioles’ hitters did, which is convenient, because they didn’t offer a whole lot of resistance either.
The team’s only two runs came on back-to-back home runs from Austin Hays and Trey Mancini in the third inning. It was Mancini’s first RBI since July 28th, so it’s nice to see him bounce back a bit. Other than that, it was a tough day at the plate for this bunch, which saw Cedric Mullins get a deserved day off. Without their all-star centerfielder, the lineup went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and grounded into a pair of double plays.
It was not a fun day to be an Orioles fan, and tomorrow isn’t set up to be much better. Bruce Zimmermann was expected to return to the mound, but a sprained ankle suffered while exercising is going to keep him out even longer. It’s a fitting occurrence for the 2021 Orioles.
Instead, Keegan Akin (0-6, 8.23 ERA) will start on Sunday to avoid a sweep in Fenway. Eduardo Rodriguez (8-6, 5.24 ERA) will oppose him. First pitch is 1:10 p.m.