Another frustrating day for the Red Sox offense, this time coming against old friend Wade Miley. To be fair to the lefty, he has been pretty solid for the Orioles this year, although he was better in April than he was in May. The Red Sox couldn’t get anything going against him, though, as he was able to keep the ball down for most of the night, inducing a ton of ground balls while not allowing much in the way of hard contact.
The best contact the Red Sox were able to make against the Orioles starter, in fact, came in the very first at bat of the game. There, Mookie Betts got a pitch right down the heart of the plate and sent it to deep center field, but it was just shallow enough that Adam Jones could make a little leaping grab to keep the ball in the yard and give them the out. That looked like a sign of good things to come for the Red Sox offense, but as it turns out that was the high point for the offense.
The one bit of damage they were able to put up against Miley came in the second inning and had a lot to do with the defense from the Orioles. After a quick first out, Miley induced a ground ball from Sam Travis hit right at Chris Davis. Playing off the bag, Davis couldn’t make the play himself and made a bad toss to Miley covering the bag, allowing Travis to get to second base on the throwing error. Vazquez was able to come through with the duck on the pond, singling through the middle to give the Red Sox their first run of the game. Vazquez would get to third after a single from Jackie Bradley, but the Red Sox couldn’t knock him in.
Besides that inning, Boston didn’t so much as threaten in this game. They went down 1-2-3 in the first, including the aforementioned deep flyout from Betts. They got a single from Chris Young in the third, but he was caught at second base trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. In the fourth, Travis had a base hit but never advanced beyond first base. And...that was it against Miley. The fifth and sixth were both 1-2-3 innings in which every batter who came to the plate grounded out. The Red Sox finally got another base runner in the seventh — sure enough, it was Travis yet again — but once again he was stranded at first.
Baltimore went to their bullpen heading into the eighth, but nothing changed in that inning as the Sox went down 1-2-3 yet again.
Then, things started to get interesting in the ninth. The inning started with two strikeouts sandwiched by a single, but then the rally got going. Josh Rutledge would single through the middle to move Hanley Ramirez to third he’d score on a single from Vazquez. Then, with two runners on, Bradley crushed a three-run home run out to right-center field and all of a sudden the Red Sox were within two. Pablo Sandoval couldn’t keep the rally going, though, grounding out to end the game.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez had his worst start in a while for the Red Sox. The night got off to a strange start for the young southpaw, as he fell during his warmup tosses in the bullpen prior to the outing. It’s unclear if there were lasting effects from that tumble, but something wasn’t quite right with Rodriguez.
After getting two quick outs to start the game, he allowed a single to Manny Machado that was followed by a two-run home run to Mark Trumbo, and the Orioles were on the board first with a quick 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez settled down for a bit after that, allowing a leadoff double in the second before stranding Trey Mancini at second and putting together a quick 1-2-3 inning in the third. Then, more problems came in the fourth. With Baltimore leading 2-1, he left a fastball down in the zone over the middle of the plate to Chris Davis and, well, you don’t want to leave a pitch there to Chris Davis. The lefty crushed it out to center field for a solo home run to extend the Orioles lead to two.
Rodriguez would get out of that inning without allowing another run and put together another 1-2-3 frame in the fifth to enter the sixth still trailing 3-1. This is when the wheels began to fall off a bit for the lefty. The inning started with a home run to Adam Jones that was only a row into the seats but crushed off the bat. The dinger was reviewed, but there’s no doubt it cleared the fence. After that, Rodriguez gave up a couple of base hits followed by a couple of outs and it looked like he might be able to escape the inning without the game getting out of hand. Instead, he left a changeup right over the heart of the plate to Jonathan Schoop who destroyed it into the bleachers to put the Orioles up 7-1.
That was the night for Rodriguez, and it was essentially the night for the Red Sox. There’s really no way to sugarcoat things here, as it was a rough night for the Boston starter. He allowed four home runs and seven runs all together and just couldn’t seem to put his pitches where he wanted them on a consistent basis. Perhaps it was due to the fall in the bullpen, or perhaps it was just a bad day. Either way, one bad start isn’t something to get too worked up over. This is particularly true for an extreme flyball pitcher like Rodriguez, as these home run-loaded outings are bound to happen once in awhile. It doesn’t make it easier to swallow, but it makes me feel better for his next time out, at least.
Rodriguez was followed by Blaine Boyer, who put together a strong performance out of the bullpen and continues to surprise in that role. Fernando Abad came on for the ninth and got through it without allowing a run, although it wasn’t always pretty.
Most of this game was forgettable as the offense did nothing until the very last inning and Rodriguez struggled mightily. They’ll try to carry that ninth inning momentum into Friday night’s game with Rick Porcello on the mound.