Once again, the Red Sox got a solid performance from their starting pitcher, but the lineup failed to score any runs. Dylan Bundy was solid for the O’s, but Boston had their chance and couldn’t come through. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, poop hit the fan, as the kids say.
We’ll start with that slide, because that will definitely be the story of this game over the poor results for the Red Sox. In the eighth, Manny Machado was on first base with nobody out and Mark Trumbo at the plate. The latter hit a double play ball towards Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, who tossed the ball to Dustin Pedroia at second. In came Machado, and slid over the bag with his spike catching Pedroia in the leg. The play knocked Pedroia out of the game, sending the Red Sox and their fans into a rage.
Any time a key player goes down on a play like this, there is going to be anger. Especially when the sliding player has a reputation like Machado’s. I will start by saying that this was a bad slide. Players have to keep their spikes down around the bag, as careless slides can obviously lead to injury as we saw here. With that being said, I don’t at all believe it was a malicious slide. I would be awfully surprised if Machado went into the bag hoping to cause an injury. It looked like he came in late, slid over the bag and let his leg get up too high. Again, he deserves the blame here, as it’s his responsibility to keep that foot down. Any talk of this being dirty or malicious, though, is probably taking it a touch too far. Obviously, we hope Pedroia is okay as it’s always upsetting when a player gets hurt in avoidable fashion.
The ripple effects of this play were also quite interesting. With Marco Hernandez being pinch-hit for in the previous inning, there weren’t any pure infielders left on the bench. That meant Pablo Sandoval shifting over to second base and Steve Selsky coming into the game to take over the hot corner. We didn’t get to see much from this alignment, but just thinking about the possibilities was enough. In the following inning, before a pitch was even thrown, third base coach Brian Butterfield got into it with the third base umpire and was ejected. I don’t recall seeing a base coach ever getting ejected before a pitch was ever thrown.
Before all of this happened, there was some actual baseball being played, and it wasn’t very good from a Boston perspective. To be fair to them, they were going up against Dylan Bundy, who has been outstanding so far this season. On the other hand, they had their chances tonight but they just couldn’t get the last and most important hit in any sequence. For instance, they had base runners with fewer than two outs in each of the first three innings, but grounded into a double plays three times.
After that, Bundy sort of just settled into a groove. Boston went down 1-2-3 in both the fourth and the fifth innings. They started to get something going a bit in the sixth, having their first two batters reach on a single and walk. The runners — Pedroia and Hernandez — wouldn’t move any farther after a lineout and two pop outs.
Arguably their best chance of the night came in the top half of the eighth, when Bundy started the inning. Things kicked off with a walk from Christian Vazquez, which knocked the Orioles starter out of the game. Unfortunately, Baltimore’s bullpen is outstanding. The lefty Donnie Hart came on in relief, and after walking the pinch-hitting Chris Young he allowed a deep flyout to Pedroia. It was the first out of the inning, but it moved Vazquez over to third where a deep fly ball could score him. Hart is a great pitcher against lefties, though, and got Andrew Benintendi to strikeout looking. From there, the Orioles brought in righty Mychal Givens to face Mookie Betts, who flew out to right field to end the game.
On the other side of things, Drew Pomeranz put together another good performance even if it wasn’t enough to win. Baltimore’s offense is a tough one to face, and allowing only two runs is a nice feat. Of course, he certainly wasn’t perfect and he was somewhat inefficient.
He first got into trouble in the third inning, when he allowed a one-out double to Craig Gentry who would come around to score on a single from Adam Jones. Pomeranz would settle down after that to get two more quick outs and limit the damage to one more run. He’d allow one more to score on a mistake pitch to Machado when Pomeranz left one right over the heart of the plate and the Orioles third baseman launched it into the seats to put Baltimore up by two.
Overall, Pomeranz was able to go 5 1⁄3 innings allowing those two runs with four strikeouts and two walks. It wasn’t a great outing, and in the future you’d like to see him get deeper into games, but that’s good enough to win most nights. After him, Joe Kelly took over for two scoreless innings and Fernando Abad got the final two outs without issue.
The Red Sox offense should be the story here, and they need to be better. We’re in this weird area where we know they will come around, but this is a frustrating stretch and all of us have every right to vent.
Of course, the bigger story will be the slide by Machado and any lingering effects on Pedroia. We’ll keep an eye out on the status of the second baseman, and over the next few days see if there is any retaliation by the Red Sox. (There shouldn’t be.)