We’ve all seen this movie before. The Orioles hang with their opponent for four or five innings before things fall apart in the second half of a game. Today was one of those days.
The top of the O’s lineup wasted no time this afternoon against Nick Pivetta and the Red Sox. Leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins took the first pitch of the game and laced an opposite-field double to left. Then no. 2 hitter Ryan Mountcastle launched his 30th home run of the year, a two-run laser beam that clanged off a piece of signage atop the Green Monster and fell back onto the playing field. Anthony Santander followed with a single and Austin Hays worked a walk, but Baltimore’s rally fizzled out after that. 2-0, O’s.
In the bottom half of the first, Boston refused to let the Orioles keep the lead. The Red Sox went to work on Zac Lowther and cobbled together a three-run inning. Enrique Hernandez led off with a double before Rafael Devers hit an RBI single. A couple of singles later, Bobby Dalbec was responsible for a two-run double. 3-2, Red Sox.
Not to be outdone, the O’s came right back and tied the game in the second. Austin Wynns took Pivetta deep with a solo shot that sailed over the Green Monster and out of the ballpark, tying the game at three.
In the latest update on Cedric Mullins’ 30-30 pursuit, he stole his 29th and 30th bases after Wynns’ home run. Mullins singled with one out in the second and then stole second base off Pivetta-Vazquez. With Santander at the plate and Boston’s infield shifted to the right, Mullins took third. There was some confusion on the play and Mullins was placed back on second. But then he jogged right back to third without even a glance from Pivetta. Very odd. But it counted as a steal, and Mullins is now one homer shy of the coveted 30-30 club.
Back on the mound, Lowther settled down after the first inning and retired the next eight Red Sox batters in a row, including 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.
Boston starter Nick Pivetta didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. The O’s started the frame with an infield single to short and a pop-up single to right. Momentum stalled when Wynns hit into a double-play, yet Red Sox manager Alex Cora chose to remove Pivetta after that play. The right-hander’s final pitching line was 3.2 innings, seven hits, three earned runs, one walk, two strikeouts, and two home runs allowed. He threw a total of 68 pitches, including 45 strikes. Reliever Darwinzon Hernandez got the final out of the frame.
Like his Red Sox counterpart, Lowther didn’t make it out of the fourth. He retired the Red Sox leadoff batter, Kyle Schwarber, but walked the next two guys in a row. That’s when O’s manager Brandon Hyde replaced the left-hander with Conner Greene, who quickly secured the last two outs. Here’s Lowther’s final pitching line: 3.1 innings, five hits, three earned runs, two walks, and two strikeouts on 57 pitches (38 strikes).
Mike Baumann was summoned to pitch the fifth inning, and the tie score evaporated on his watch. Devers doubled with one out and scored on Xander Bogaerts’ single. 4-3, Red Sox. It got worse in the following inning.
In the sixth, Boston scored four two-out runs. Hernandez reached on a single and scored on Hunter Renfroe’s double. Then Devers singled to put runners on the corners and Bogaerts hit a three-run homer to left. 8-3, Red Sox.
Orioles reliever Fernando Abad gave up three hits and the final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh. It happened when Kyle Schwarber scored from third on a 4-6-3 ground ball double-play. 9-3, Red Sox.
The only baserunners the Orioles could muster after the fifth inning were on a single and a walk. And despite collecting nine total hits, the club was unable to get clutch hits. As a team, the Birds were 1-for-10 with runners on and stranded eight on base.
Boston’s star shortstop Xander Bogaerts tormented the Orioles today, going 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. On the bright side, Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle went a combined 4-for-8 at the top of the O’s lineup. At least there are a few things to be excited about in the final week-plus of the season since Mountcastle is setting Oriole rookie records (like HR) and Mullins is so close to reaching the 30-30 club.
After losing the first two games of this series, the Orioles have to win tomorrow to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox. The pitching matchup will be left-hander Alexander Wells for the Orioles versus right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. After that, the O’s move on to Philadelphia for a three-game set against the Phillies.