This was a tough loss, though they were behind pretty much the entire game. There was frustrating on both sides of the ball, but the big focus here has to be on Drew Pomeranz, who continued to look....well, not right. The lefty give up huge damage until the fourth, but he was flirting with disaster throughout the outing, just as he had the entire game. On offense, the team got more struggles from both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez while Mitch Moreland spent most of the game on the bench. It wasn’t a game without positives, though. Mookie Betts was (mostly) incredible again, and Steven Wright had an impressive showing in a long relief appearance out of the bullpen.
There really hasn’t been a lot to be encouraged about with Pomeranz of late, and even the starts where his final line looks solid he has been walking a tightrope. That was the case for much of this (admittedly) short outing, though the rope finally snapped at the end. As we’ve seen for much of 2018, the lefty was dealing with subpar velocity, sitting in the high-80s for most of his start. The good thing about many of his previous starts of late has been a willingness to mix in his changeup and cutter, but that wasn’t the case tonight. Instead, he was almost exclusively featuring that underwhelming fastball and a curveball that was actually solid most of the time. Still, we’ve seen this from him before and unless he’s perfect he can’t survive as this type of two-pitch pitcher.
The first inning showed what kind of night it was shaping up to be from Pomeranz, and it started right away when he walked the first batter he faced on four pitches. That was followed up by a one-out double from Manny Machado (who killed the Red Sox all night) to put two in scoring position, and a walk immediately followed that to load the bases. Pomeranz was able to induce a groundout and a flyout to get out of the inning with only one run, but it was the start of that tightrope walk we talked about before.
The big lefty did follow that inning up with a mildly impressive 1-2-3 second, giving some hope that he just needed an inning to settle into the game and find a rhythm. That feeling went away in the third as the tightrope returned. There, after a quick first out, he allowed a single and another Machado double to put two in scoring position with just one down. Seeming like a big chance for Baltimore to extend their 1-0 lead, Pomeranz got out of it with a pop up and a groundout.
Things didn’t work out so well in the fourth, immediately after the Red Sox had tied the game at one. Here, Pomeranz got back on the tightrope, and he wasn’t as stable. This inning started with a double and a single, once again putting two in scoring position and this time doing so with nobody out. He did get two quick outs after that, however, while not allowing the runs to score. It looked like he might escape again. Instead, he walked the next batter he saw to load the bases and allowed a two-run single to Adam Jones. To be fair, the second run should not have scored as Andrew Benintendi made a good enough throw home that one-hopped to the plate. Christian Vazquez couldn’t handle the bounce, though, and the run scored while Jones moved over to second. That was big because Machado came up next to rip a single off the Monster to score two more and give Baltimore a 5-1 lead. That was all they’d get there, and it was all we’d see from Pomeranz. He finished his night with four innings, allowing the five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts. Not great!
Meanwhile, the offense was going up against Alex Cobb, a pitcher they destroyed earlier in the year and a guy who has had a rough 2018 to put it mildly. As has been the case too much lately, there was some frustrating in this game. Mookie Betts was tremendous all night, but he did make one crucial mistake in the first. After leading things off with a double (again), Benintendi hit a soft liner that was caught by Jonathan Schoop at second base. Betts misread it off the bat and was caught too far off the bag, getting doubled up to kill a scoring chance.
In the second, they got two baserunners but the first (Xander Bogaerts) was immediately caught stealing second base. The third finally saw some scoring, but it wasn’t really a ton because once again the bottom of the lineup failed to get on base ahead of Betts. After two quick outs to start the inning, the Red Sox superstar got a fastball middle-in and rocketed it into the Monster Seats for his league-leading 14th home run. It would have been nice if it wasn’t a solo shot, but it still felt nice to tie the game at one at the time.
Of course, Pomeranz quickly gave that back in the fourth, and the Red Sox wasted a one-out double from J.D. Martinez in the bottom half. The 5-1 score remained into the fifth, when the Red Sox lineup got going again. This time, the bottom of the order did do some work with Eduardo Núñez singling to lead things off and Vazquez following that up with a one-out single of his own to put runners on the corners for Betts. Of course he came through, because he always does. He ripped a double into the corner to score one and put a couple in scoring position for Benintendi. He’d come through as well with a single of his own, scoring one more. That put the deficit at two and runners on the corners with just one out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate. He’s been hitting a ton of ground balls of late, and he continued that here hitting into a deflating double play to end the inning ahead of Martinez.
Back on the pitching side, Steven Wright took over in the fifth and had a nice showing in long relief. He allowed a walk in the fifth before tossing a 1-2-3 sixth, holding on to the two-run deficit. The seventh brought a little more trouble as he left a knuckleball up in the zone to Schoop, who can crush that kind of pitch. That’s exactly what he did, extending the lead to three.
The Red Sox would threaten in the bottom of the seventh with a one-out double from Vazquez and a two-out walk from Benintendi, but nothing came of that. They’d have a little more luck in the eighth with some help from Baltimore’s defense. Bogaerts put forth a tough at bat that ended with what should have been a routine pop up to left field. Trey Mancini had some trouble with the wind that often comes off the left-field grandstands, though, and the ball bounced out of the glove for a two-base error. With two outs, Núñez knocked the run in with a double, and Brock Holt kept the inning going with an infield single. That forced Buck Showalter to go to his closer with two outs in the eighth, and Alex Cora countered that by bringing in Mitch Moreland to pinch hit. Moreland would draw a walk, loading the bases for Betts. For as hot as Betts has been, he couldn’t come through this time. A pop out to first ended the inning and left the bags full with the Sox still down two.
Wright would start to falter a bit in the ninth and allowed one more run to give Baltimore their three-run lead before Heath Hembree came in to record the final out of the inning. I should also note that Blake Swihart was the catcher this inning (no, it was not his fault that the Orioles scored a run). The Red Sox got a two-out double from Martinez in the ninth, but that was all.
The Red Sox will look to get back on track and still give themselves a chance to take three of four in this series with a win Friday night. They’ll send Rick Porcello to the mound to take on Dylan Bundy. First pitch is at 7:10 PM ET.