Steven Wright went the distance Monday afternoon, getting the Red Sox off to a perfect start in their big four-game set against the Orioles.
By the time all was said and done, this game would have the appearance of a blowout. But the reality is that it was anything but. The Red Sox did get out to an early lead, returning to their ways of scoring in the first as Mookie Betts made a fantastic play on the bases, rounding third and coming home to score when a swinging bunt from Xander Bogaerts pulled Caleb Joseph off the plate with nobody returning to cover home. They would score again in the third, with three consecutive hits from the top of the order culminating in an RBI double from Xander Bogaerts, but David Ortiz could not get the run in from third with one out, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a ground ball to second to end the inning, leaving the Sox up just 2-0.
With the big inning eluding his offense, Steven Wright had little wiggle room to work with. Still, he managed to hold the Orioles down despite loading the bases in the second, and pitched into the fifth without allowing Baltimore to get on the board.
There, however, things would finally go awry, at least a bit. While the knuckler had been moving in ridiculous ways all game, a couple floating in belt-high to Nolan Reimold and Ryan Flaherty to start staggered Wright and brought a run home. The Orioles would manage to bring Flaherty around to score on a sacrifice fly from Adam Jones, and Wright walked Hun-Soo Kim to keep some bite in the inning. But while he'd allowed the Orioles to tie the game, he did not give up the lead, getting Chris Davis to ground out to end it.
Jackie Bradley Jr. would respond almost immediately. Given the first at-bat of the sixth, Bradley jumped on a high 1-1 offering and sent it sailing into the Orioles bullpen in left-center field, retaking the lead at 3-2. Given a second chance with the lead, Wright did not relent. Starting with the two outs to finish the fifth, Wright would completely lock down, retiring eleven straight Orioles to get the game into the ninth.
And by that point, Wright had a much larger lead. David Ortiz, with his foot apparently feeling better, led off the eighth with his 14th homer of the year. And after a walk to Travis Shaw and single from Blake Swihart, Marco Hernandez followed the 517th homer of Ortiz' career with the very first of his own, golfing an 0-1 Mychal Givens fastball out to right, finally giving the Red Sox and Steven Wright some serious breathing room. The knuckleballer returned to the mound to finish what he started, and while he'd end up walking a pair of batters as his pitch count climbed over 110 and eventually 120, Wright got a pair of ground balls, with one going for two outs, to close out the game.