The Red Sox fell 4-1 to the Orioles Tuesday night in a game that reminds us all why throwing high, straight fastballs over the plate is usually considered to be a bad idea.
Anthony Ranaudo threw fastballs tonight. 44 of his 67 pitches, to be exact, and most of them for strikes. There's something to be said for pounding the zone and putting the onus on the opposing batters to actually hit the ball, but Ranaudo has a tendency to take that to its worst extreme. What was not high in the zone was high out of it with almost nothing to show in the lower half. There's no way to survive pitching like that, and Ranaudo...well, he didn't.
Recording just one out in the fourth, Ranaudo managed to give up six hits on the night, and these were hard hits. The first came after a leadoff walk in the first to Nick Markakis, and sure enough it was a laser-straight fastball that ended up sailing over the wall in right field. The pitch wasn't exactly high, but it was closer to middle-middle than to any corner.
In the third, it was De Aza going deep again. This time the fastball was high, just begging to be launched to the exact same spot of the park, and De Aza obliged. And this time, it did not come alone. Two pitches later it was another bad fastball elevated for Adam Jones, who lifted it over the Monster to add his solo shot to De Aza's pair of jacks, leaving the Red Sox behind 4-0.
The Red Sox managed to get things under control when they got Ranaudo out of the game in the fourth, and after a couple scoreless innings from Drake Britton and Burke Badenhop, Matt Barnes was able to provide the Red Sox with a true bright spot on the night, recording three scoreless innings in his major league debut, striking out two batters while flashing an as-good-as-expected curveball (albeit hanging a couple in the process) and a surprisingly good changeup, which proved something of a wipeout pitch against Adam Jones.
Xander Bogaerts would provide another rare bright spot on the night, crushing a Chris Tillman fastball over the Monster for a solo shot that pulled the Red Sox within three. Bogaerts would reach base three times in four plate appearances, keeping his late surge alive, but ended up running into an out at home with no outs in the ninth still down by those same three runs. A terrible gaffe that just can't happen in a real game, but frankly not such a big deal on a night like tonight.
Still, for as good as Barnes was on the mound and Bogaerts at the plate, Anthony Ranaudo was every bit as bad on the mound. It's one of those performances that makes you wonder what, exactly, Ranaudo is doing at this level as currently constructed. He didn't fool anyone tonight, and so long as he's throwing the ball like that, the Red Sox can expect more multi-homer games in the days to come.