This one hurts.
For the second straight game, the Red Sox fell behind in a big way early courtesy of a starting pitcher's implosion. This time it was Clay Buchholz struggling in the third, with the Orioles setting up a veritable carousel around the bases. Ground balls, line drives, bloops--everything went for a hit. Five straight to start the inning. It was in part bad luck, yes, but Buchholz was throwing 89 with no command of his fastball. It's hard to say he didn't deserve the six runs he allowed in the frame.
Of course, the Red Sox had just shown Sunday night they were perfectly capable of overcoming a five-run deficit, so why not six? Today, however, the signs were very much against them early on. With Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz on base with one out in the bottom of the fourth, Jonny Gomes hit a rocket straight to Ryan Flaherty, who snagged the ball and stepped on second to double up Pedroia. The signs from above were not positive, to say the least.
Then, in the fifth, the Red Sox broke through. A pair of leadoff baserunners gave Jackie Bradley Jr. a chance, and the outfielder capitalized with a ground-rule double to right. A Brock Holt sacrifice fly and Dustin Pedroia double quickly made it a 6-3 game, but once again luck was just not on Boston's side, with David Ortiz hitting a low line drive that Steve Lombardozzi was just able to knock out of the air, firing to first to retire Ortiz and end the inning.
David Ross would go deep to make it a two-run game, but just enough went wrong in a mess of an eighth inning to keep the Red Sox from completing their comeback. First, in the top of the eighth, Craig Breslow gave up a pair of singles which proved enough to bring home a seventh Baltimore run. Then, in the bottom of the frame, after Mike Napoli made up for the run with a solo shot, John Farrell made the baffling decision to bring in Jonathan Herrera to bat for David Ross with two on and one out, and everything went wrong.
Had Herrera been brought in to bunt, that at least would have made logical sense, even if you don't think bunting is the right strategy in the situation. Instead, he was allowed to swing away against Brian Matusz, and even called on to hit-and-run. With a full count, Herrera swung through a fastball for strike three, and if that wasn't bad enough, Xander Bogaerts and Daniel Nava had gotten mixed up, the latter taking off for second, leaving the former to make a late break then get hung up between bases, ending the inning.
That the Red Sox did work in the ninth just makes the eighth stand out even more. They managed to put together a run on a Mike Napoli ground out with the bases loaded, but even there it feels like the Red Sox got the short end of the stick, as Napoli had taken four straight pitches outside of the zone, with a truly atrocious inside strike call arguably costing him the RBI base on balls. In the end, though, Mike Carp came up to bat with two outs instead of one, and could only ground out to first, leaving the Red Sox once again two games back of .500.