This was not the prettiest baseball game of all time, at least if you enjoy offense. Both starting pitchers — Steven Wright for the Sox and Dylan Bundy for the O’s — were at their best in this game and neither lineup ever really threatened to do damage. It was a quick affair dominated by pitching and nobody scored until the twelfth inning. The Red Sox got the win, but the offense continuing to struggle is certainly something that needs to be reversed, though the solution isn’t clear. For the moment, though, we can just enjoy a victory, a tie for first in the division and another tremendous outing for Steven Wright.
There really wasn’t much going on against the starting pitchers on either side, as both offenses looked completely lost and failed to even threaten to score outside of a couple of chances. We’ll start with Wright’s side of things, as he was incredibly impressive and continues to look like the fifth spot is going to be his for as long as he wants it. The knuckleball was working and then some in this game, and as we’ve seen so many times over the years from both him and Tim Wakefield, when the knuckleball is really working there isn’t a lineup in baseball that can feel good stepping into the batters box.
Wright got himself off to a strong start in this game, though he did allow a single in the first inning. It was all Baltimore would get there, however. In the second, they did a little better with a one-out walk and a two-out single, but with two runners on base Jace Peterson popped one out to left field and Andrew Benintendi made a nice running grab to end the threat.
The third represented the best scoring chance for Baltimore, as they got a one-out single from Adam Jones, who quickly moved to second base on a wild pitch. He’d then move over to third on a deep flyout, but Wright got a big ground ball — and some help from some good defense courtesy of Rafael Devers — to strand the runner 90 feet from home plate.
From there, Wright got into a big groove with a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth while pitching around a leadoff walk in the sixth.
Unfortunately, as Wright was pitching so well, the Red Sox couldn’t get anything going against Dylan Bundy. To the righty’s credit, he has shown that he can be dominant when he’s commanding his pitches and that’s exactly what happened on Monday night.
Really, the Red Sox weren’t even able to get anything going at all against Bundy to so much as threaten to score. They were able to get a single in the first, but the runner was not able to advance beyond first base. They wouldn’t get another hit until the fourth, and there the runner was quickly eliminated in a double play.
Boston’s best chance to score came in the fifth when Xander Bogaerts drew a one-out walk and moved over to second after a couple of outs, but he’d be left in scoring position. The Red Sox would leave one runner on in each of the next two innings as well, including one in scoring position in the seventh.
That brought us to the bottom half of the seventh, which was the closest either team got to scoring to this point in the game. Wright did get two quick outs in this inning before the trouble began. With those two down, the knuckleballer proceeded to hit a batter, allow a bunt single and walk a batter to load the bases. That would end Wright’s night, as Alex Cora called upon Joe Kelly to escape the jam. The right-handed fireballer did just that, getting a huge strikeout of Adam Jones to leave the bases loaded and keep the game tied at nothing apiece.
In the eighth it was more of the same for both sides, as the Red Sox went down 1-2-3 with Bundy still in the game and Joe Kelly came back out for a relatively easy bottom half in which he allowed just a walk.
So, we headed on to the ninth with both teams still looking for their first run of the game, and Baltimore sent out Richard Bleier to start the inning. The Red Sox did not get anything going there, going down 1-2-3.
With Baltimore sending three lefties up for the bottom half of the ninth, Cora sent Brian Johnson out for the ninth inning. He did get a couple of quick outs before walking the third batter he’d face. With Peterson on first, Brandon Workman came out looking for one out to send the game into extras. The Orioles countered by sending the left-handed Pedro Alvarez up to pinch hit, and Peterson stole second base during that at bat. None of that mattered, though, as Workman got a huge strikeout to take us to the tenth.
The Red Sox, as became all too familiar in this game, went down 1-2-3 in the top half, and Workman came back out for the bottom. He got a couple of quick outs to lead the inning off, but then old friend (for about five minutes in 2012) Danny Valencia ripped a double down the left field line to put the winning run in scoring position for Mark Trumbo. He would draw a walk, and Trey Mancini came to the plate. Workman got out of another jam with another big strikeout, though, and we went on to the eleventh.
There, Boston’s hitters got into the best situation in what seemed like forever (at least since the middle of this game) when Mookie Betts got a two-out single and Benintendi followed it up with a walk. That brought J.D. Martinez — who was 0-4 with three strikeouts and a popup to this point in the night — to the plate facing Mychal Givens. He would draw another walk to load things up for Mitch Moreland. The first baseman got himself a 3-0 count, but Givens came back with three strikes in a row to set Moreland down and end the threat.
After Heath Hembree came on and struck out the side in the bottom of the eleventh — and I should note that Betts was taken out of the game for that inning as well — Bogaerts started the twelfth off with a leadoff single. Devers quickly followed that up with a double into the left-center gap — and the non-send of Bogaerts sure looked questionable as did his read off the bat — to put two in scoring position. After Eduardo Núñez was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Brock Holt had a chance to drive in the game’s first run. He did his job, hitting a fly ball out to center field deep enough to score a run, and the throw home advanced the other two runners into scoring position. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up with a sacrifice fly of his own, and the Sox had a 2-0 lead.
That would be the lead heading into the bottom of the inning, and Craig Kimbrel came on looking for the save. He did walk the leadoff man, but he was able to get three straight strikeouts after that to lock down the win.
The Red Sox will look to build a little momentum while also clinching a series victory on Tuesday with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on David Hess. First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.