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Red Sox 5, Orioles 12: The knuckleball didn’t knuckle

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Steven Wright was very bad, and also very not good.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

That was not fun. Steven Wright was about as bad as a starting pitcher can possibly be, and while the Red Sox offense looked like they were ready to come back at a couple points in the night, the deficit was just too large to make a real comeback.

It was Wright that was the story in this one, though, and it didn’t take long for that to be known. In fact, it started on the very first pitch of the game when the ball got away from Wright and hit Seth Smith to lead off the contest. Adam Jones came up next, and Wright got him with a nasty knuckleball. It looked as if things might not be so bad afterall. Oh, how naive I was. This was the point at which the runs started piling up. First, it was a ground rule double from Manny Machado to score one. After a groundout got my hopes back up a little bit, Mark Trumbo hit a line-drive single to right field to score another. After Welington Castillo hit a single to put on, Trey Mancini demolished a home run to right field and all of a sudden it was 5-0 Baltimore. Jonathan Schoop would follow that up with a homer of his own, and the Orioles ended up batting around in the first and putting six runs on the board. Not great!

That wasn’t all. After the Red Sox managed but one single off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the bottom half of the first, Wright was back on the mound with John Farrell hoping it was a one inning blip and he could save the bullpen at least a little bit. That....well that didn’t really work out. The knuckleballer would face three batters in the inning, and two of them — Jones and Chris Davis — hit home runs. That was it for Wright, as he allowed eight runs and four home runs in just 1 13 innings.

After that Ben Taylor came in for some mop-up duty and he was easily the biggest positive of the night for the Red Sox. He quickly got two outs to get Boston out of the second inning, and while he began the third inning by allowing another homer to Mancini, he induced three quick outs after that. Overall, he ended up throwing 3 23 strong frames for the Red Sox and throwing 66 pitches in the process. With the team lacking a true long reliever, that is a huge performance that allowed Farrell to avoid completely killing his bullpen after Wright only lasted an inning. Unfortunately for him, he’ll probably be rewarded with a trip to Pawtucket since he’ll be unavailable for a few days.

Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

In the meantime, the Red Sox offense was starting to give us a little hope against Jimenez. They got a double and a single to start off the bottom half of the third, and with one out Andrew Benintendi knocked in Chris Young with a sac fly, bringing Boston within one touchdown with a two-point conversion.

The next frame was even better, as Baltimore’s starter was clearly losing it. Hanley Ramirez kicked things off with a double to left field and was later knocked in on a single from Xander Bogaerts. Pablo Sandoval came to the plate next, and knocked a big home run into the Monster Seats. All of a sudden, it was 9-4 and a much more manageable deficit.

The fifth inning was when the lineup really got people’s hopes up for a comeback, with Jimenez inexplicably still in the game for Baltimore. Boston started the inning with two walks and a single, with a line out mixed in there, to bring Bogaerts up with the bases loaded and one out against new pitcher Mychal Givens. The Red Sox shortstop did come through with a base hit, but it only scored one run as a better outfielder than Mancini probably would’ve made the play. With a 9-5 score and the bases still loaded, Sandoval struck out and Young flew out and the Red Sox only managed one inning in the frame. That seemed like their chance to make the comeback really happen, but they couldn’t come through.

After that, it was pretty much over. Fernando Abad ended up coming in, proving that he does actually exist, and he was pretty much what you’d expect. His first inning went well, as he allowed one base hit but still faced the minimum thanks to a double play. He started the seventh inning by allowing a single to Davis, and that was the end of his night with Joe Kelly coming in next. Kelly struggled, to say the least. He allowed the inherited run to score after two straight hits, and overall he went two innings and allowed two runs plus the inherited run to score. Robby Scott came on for the ninth and tossed a scoreless frame.

For all of Kelly’s struggles, Abad’s Abadness (I promise this is not a pun, but rather an adjective to describe Abad’s special kind of mediocrity), and the offense’s letdowns, the story of this game was Wright. We all know this is the kind of outing that can come from knuckleballers sometimes, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch. He probably cost Taylor his roster spot with this blow-up of an outing, and with a day game coming on Thursday it was not an opportune time to last just barely over an inning. He’s not necessarily a long-term concern, but any time you blow up like Wright did on Wednesday, the storyline is going to be said blow-up. Now, all he can do is put it past him and get ready for his next start.

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