As today’s game came to an end, MASN broadcaster Kevin Brown declared it “devastating and demoralizing,” which seems to be the perfect way to describe the 9-8 loss by the Orioles to the Red Sox.
It should have been an 8-7 win. With two outs in the ninth, a routine fly ball went to the sure-handed Ryan McKenna in left field. As he caught the ball one-handed he took his eye off of it for just a second and it dropped to the ground. The next batter, Adam Duvall, launched a ball atop the Green Monster for the walk-off home run.
For the second straight game, the Orioles blew a big lead. Last time, they held on to win. Not tonight. After 2.5 innings they were up 7-1, which felt great. But then starter Dean Kremer fell apart and was out after three innings. The vulnerable-looking bullpen held it down for a bit but allowed the Red Sox to chip away to make it a one-run game going into the ninth. That set things up for the ninth-inning meltdown that put an end to one of the most frustrating games I can recall watching in recent history.
A lot happened in this game and I won’t be able to touch on all of it. If I skip one of the moments you can’t stop thinking about, please tell us about it in the comments. Let’s jump in.
If the Orioles were worried about facing Chris Sale ahead of today’s game, it did not show. The lefty is finally healthy after several years worth of injuries, but whether he can return to his pre-injury form remains to be seen. If he can, today did not show it.
The O’s jumped out to a quick lead in the top of the first thanks to home runs from Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays. Mounty’s went for two runs as it brought in Adley Rutschman who had singled. Hays was a solo shot, but it was the start of a big day for him at the plate.
As a fun fact, today is his son’s first birthday, and pre-game he said the best gift he could give him was a home run. And he did! So cute. Remember this good feeling now because later you’re gonna be annoyed at Hays when he makes another defensive miscue.
With the score 3-0 in the second inning, Kremer gave up a leadoff triple to Adam Duvall, which was frustrating because it appeared that Cedric Mullins didn’t get a great read on it. It would have been a great catch if he could have managed it, but the Mullins we expect could have gotten to it.
Kremer followed that up with a wild pitch that allowed Duvall to score. Frustrating, but he seemed to pull himself together after that. He struck out the next three batters to end the inning. All was well, right? Well, no. But first, more Orioles runs!
Sale loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third inning. Anthony Santander and Hays singled while Gunnar Henderson got his first of three walks on the day. Jorge Mateo followed with what looked like a double play ball, but Henderson’s great slide combined with Mateo’s speed kept it just one out. Santander scored on the play.
Mullins came up next, weirdly batting in the 8-hole. He deleted the defensive hiccup in the ledger with his first home run of the year, an Earl Weaver Special. That made the score 7-1 and we were all feeling very good indeed. Kremer ruined that in a hurry.
First, he walked Enrique Hernández, the number nine hitter. Hernández is not much of an OBP guy, so walking him to turn over the lineup is especially infuriating. Even more so when the next batter, Alex Verdugo, goes deep. Rafael Devers did Kremer a favor by getting a hit to right field, then over-sliding second base as the throw came into Jorge Mateo. Mateo alertly tagged him out.
It didn’t matter in the end since the Orioles lost, but it saved a run. Justin Turner singled and Duvall hit his first home run of the game. Kremer got out of the inning but he did not return. His final pitching line: 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. Not great! Let’s hope he does a bit better in his next start, which will be the home opener.
The Orioles scored their eighth and final run of the game in the fourth inning, and it came with a bit of controversy. After a one-out Mountcastle single, Anthony Santander doubled. As Mountcastle came in to score, Santander attempted to move up to third on the throw.
Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire fired the ball to third. It beat Santander there but his hand appeared to snake under Devers and touch the base before the tag. Santander was called out. The Orioles called for a review and the call was upheld despite what appeared to be video evidence to the contrary. This especially stung the next batter up, Hays, doubled.
The Orioles relief crew stepped up for several innings to hold the 8-5 lead. Mike Baumann and Danny Coulombe each pitched a scoreless inning before Austin Voth came in and coughed up a home run to Hernández. Cionel Pérez followed and also gave up one run. He got knocked around a bit but the run scored on an automatic double to right field that Hays was just...nowhere near. He just ran to a different part of the warning track than where the ball landed. Great job, Austin!
Honestly, the outfield defense has been offensive these first two games. This can’t be their actual skill level, can it?
It didn’t end up mattering on the scoreboard, but in the eighth inning, the Orioles were screwed on an even more egregious replay call. Logan Gillaspie came into the game and, despite my consternation over this being the guy the team goes to for a high-leverage eighth inning, looked pretty darn good. He got two quick outs and then threw a pitch that went high and tight on Hernández. The ump said it hit him and off he went to first base.
But wait! On replay, it clearly didn’t hit anything! It didn’t hit him. It didn’t hit his bat. The only thing it hit was Adley’s glove. It was as clear as day. And yet, the call was upheld. Everyone was flabbergasted. Gillaspie was replaced by Keegan Akin to face a lefty, and Akin got the final out.
As prolific as the Orioles’ bats were in the first four innings of the game, that’s how quiet they were in the last five. Four Red Sox pitchers held the lineup to just three hits and no runs. And that’s how we ended up in the dreadful ninth inning.
Félix Bautista, who struggled mightily in the first game this year, still looked to be having some command problems. But they weren’t so bad that he didn’t again strike out Devers. He went to a 3-2 count on Turner but induced a ground out. That brought up new Red Sock and new major leaguer, Masataka Yoshida. Yoshida hit a 99 mph fastball to left field for what looked like the final out. McKenna settled under it, put out his glove and...disaster. I can’t even.
It opened the door for Adam Duvall, who was just a single short of the cycle. But he did not hit get his cycle. A 99 mph low middle fastball came towards him and he golfed it just over the edge of the monster to end the game.
It was devastating and demoralizing. I don’t know what I expected from the first two games of the season, but it surely wasn’t this. What can tomorrow bring? I guess we’ll tune in at 1:30 and find out.