The Red Sox win their second in a row to guarantee at least a split with the Orioles behind a strong start and good-enough hitting.
The story heading into this game, of course, was the beef between the Red Sox and Orioles. After Rob Manfred called both teams to tell them to stop all of this, the expectation was that the drama would be put on hold, at least for now. It didn’t quite work out that way, although it didn’t go down the way we would have expected. In the bottom half of the second, with Xander Bogaerts at the plate, Kevin Gausman hung a curveball that stayed in and hit the Red Sox shortstop. It was a 76 mph pitch, and pretty clearly not meant to send a message. Home plate umpire Sam Holbrook felt differently, apparently, and tossed Baltimore’s starter instantly. That incited strong reactions, to say the least, from Caleb Joseph and Buck Showalter, although neither of them were tossed.
It was a mistake by Holbrook, without a doubt. He was clearly ready for some more action to go down and wasn’t going to let it go down on his watch. It’s an admirable stance, but there needs to be some judgement involved. Either way, the Red Sox were the beneficiaries of the quick hook, as they got to see Baltimore’s bullpen much more quickly than they would have expected.
Boston took advantage of the situation fairly quickly, too. With Bogaerts already on first, the Orioles called upon lefty Richard Bleier, who promptly allowed another walk and a groundout that put two runners in scoring position with just one out. The rally should have been a big one, given the situation both in terms of runners on base and the pitcher on the mound, but they scored only one on a line drive single from Josh Rutledge.
In the fourth, the Orioles — or, more specifically, JJ Hardy — put on their best Red Sox defense impression. Things started with Bogaerts getting on base once again, this time on a routine grounder to shortstop that simply went right between Hardy’s legs. After a single and a double, both of which were hit hard, the Red Sox had another run on the board and two more in scoring position. Hardy would strike again when Rutledge hit a grounder to the shortstop. Hardy made the play this time, but inexplicably decided to try to gun down Moreland at home and sailed the throw. All told, Boston would plate three in the inning and leave it with a 4-0 lead. Overall, it was an admirable performance for Bleier and likely a missed opportunity for the offense to put up a crooked number against a pitcher who was not at all prepared to come in when he did.
Meanwhile, Drew Pomeranz looked fabulous for most of his outing, although one would like to see him go a little deeper into the game. The reason he didn’t do so on Wednesday was a sketchy first inning that made it appear it’d be a long night for the lefty. It started with a double on an unlucky blooper that just landed in the perfect spot for Joey Rickard. After that, Marco Hernandez committed an error at third base — and would have to leave the game after the play due to a shoulder strain — to put two on. Both runners reached in ways one can’t really fault Pomeranz for, but the pitcher also had a chance to put both away in two-strike counts but couldn’t find the putaway curveball. He’d get two quick outs before loading the bases, but somehow escaped the inning without allowing a run. He did, however, throw 34 pitches.
After that, he settled down in a big way. He had a little more success locating the fastball and improved by leaps and bounds with his curveball. Pomeranz had quick 1-2-3 innings in both the second and third before escaping another jam in the fourth. After a quick and painless fifth — an inning that included an ejection of Adam Jones for arguing balls and strikes — he was brought out for the sixth, which seems almost impossible after that first inning. He wouldn’t last long, allowing a walk and a ground-rule double before leaving the game. Pomeranz ended up striking out seven in 5 1⁄3 innings of work and looked the part of being at least a strong back-end arm with the potential for more.
Heath Hembree would come in with two in scoring position and let them both score, but limited the damage to just that. Meanwhile, on the other side of things, the Orioles curiously sent out Ubaldo Jimenez to finish the game out of their bullpen. It was a strange move, considering he was their scheduled starter for Thursday night. As of this writing, it’s unclear who will take his place.
The rest of the game was mostly uneventful outside of a scare in the bottom half of the seventh. There, Betts hit a ground ball to first base and Davis threw the toss to the bag away. As Betts tried to get back to the bag without being tagged out, Joseph’s throw nailed the Red Sox outfielder in the leg. Betts’ leg also got jammed up sliding back into the bag, and it was unclear which incident caused the pain. Either way, he was on the ground holding his leg while Red Sox fans everywhere held their breath. He’d eventually shake off the pain, though, and even steal second base just to show he was okay.
The Red Sox will come back tomorrow against Starting Pitcher TBD and try to take three out of four from Baltimore, which is much better revenge than what they’ve been doing.