After the first two games of the series, I said the Red Sox were playing with house money. That was true. It remains true. When you go on the road for a four-game set against a division rival close behind in the standings, it's damn hard to come away with a win. Securing two and staying ahead is more or less all you can ask for, and the Red Sox did that.
But damn, if losing the Rick Porcello - Ubaldo Jimenez matchup doesn't grate.
Tonight was a very 2015 performance from Rick Porcello. It wasn't that he was consistently awful. But he struggled to keep his pitches down, and made mistakes to batters that you can't make mistakes to. He allowed seven baserunners in just under six innings of work, and five of them scored. If that sounds like bad luck, it isn't really when you consider that three of his hits allowed were homers.
And if that sounds unlucky to you--fly ball : homer ratios and all that--well, this does have the feeling of just being one of those nights for Baltimore. They would ultimately hit seven homers on the night, with two coming later against Tazawa to undo the work the Red Sox did against Jimenez, and another two against Noe Ramirez (still not an MLB-quality pitcher) when the game was out of hand.
On the other hand, you throw belt-high, you get punished. Plain and simple.
For a while there, this game was looking like it was going to be a much different, even worse kind of loss. Because Ubaldo Jimenez had a no-hitter going, and a shutout into the fifth. Thankfully, that fell apart in dramatic fashion, with Christian Vazquez sparking a five-run rally capped off by David Ortiz going deep for a three-run shot. Xander Bogaerts kept his hitting streak going in the midst of that, and for a brief moment, the Sox were ahead 5-4.
Then Porcello allowed his third homer, and it was all downhill from there.
So this game, for lack of a better word, sucked. The Red Sox should win this pitching matchup, but Porcello pitched down to Ubaldo's level of competition, the bullpen struggled again, and the Orioles hit the ball very, very hard.
Ultimately, after these last two games, it's a 3-4 road trip for the Red Sox against division rivals. The Red Sox had a chance to make a statement, and they very much did not. But it also wasn't an unqualified disaster in the way some of the individual games might have felt.
Go home, and shake off the losses. The Sox can't really afford to do otherwise. The Blue Jays are in town, and if coming up just short of even on the road trip isn't a disaster, doing the same at home comes quite a bit closer.