After Friday’s slugfest in Baltimore, the Red Sox and Orioles started Saturday’s doubleheader with different vibes. The starting pitchers both pitched really well in this one, but David Price’s star certainly shined brighter. The lefty was stellar in this outing, mixing his pitches and showing off impeccable command for one of his best starts of the entire season. The offense wasn’t quite as impressive, but two homers from Jackie Bradley Jr. (who was a homer shy of the cycle on Friday) and one from Eduardo Núñez, along with Xander Bogaerts doing work with his legs were enough for a relatively comfortable victory.
Price is on a roll right now, and that continued against Baltimore on Saturday. In the first half of this doubleheader in Baltimore, the Red Sox lefty was able to do what Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi before him could not. That is, he went out and pitched extremely well against the Yankees then carried that momentum into his next start. Granted, Price had some momentum even before the outing against New York, but it was still encouraging to see that carry over into Baltimore, even if it wasn’t against the most potent lineup we’ve ever seen. The southpaw did a great job of mixing his pitches, and while he wasn’t as efficient as we would have liked in an ideal world, that’s a small price to pay for how well he pitched.
Really, the Orioles were not able to get much of anything going at any point while Price was on the mound. They went down in order in the first, including one strikeout on a fastball. In the second, Price worked around a one-out single in an inning that included yet another K, this one coming on the changeup. The third went just about the same, except it included two strikeouts instead of one, with the first on the cutter and the second on the changeup.
The fourth seemed like it could be the chance for Baltimore to get some momentum against the Red Sox starter. Adam Jones led off that inning with a base hit, the first time a leadoff batter got on base for the O’s in this game. All Price did after that was strike out the next three batters he faced, one on the fastball, one on the cutter and one on the changeup. For those keeping track at home, that’s seven strikeouts in four innings with three on the changeup, two on the fastball and two on the cutter. That’s exactly what the Red Sox want from Price, to be able to get batters with any of his three major offerings. The fifth included two more strikeouts, with both of these happening to come off the cutter.
Unfortunately for Price, the early parts of this outing were much like his last time out against New York in that his lineup didn’t give him much support at all. Going up against Jimmy Yacabonis, the Red Sox lineup was stumped by this struggling rookie, and it was frustrating to watch. Over the first four innings, Boston managed just one baserunner on a single, couldn’t advance said baserunner beyond first base and struck out twice. Given how well Price was throwing and the (justified) expectations for this lineup against someone like Yacabonis, it was not very fun to watch all of this unfold.
Finally, in the fifth, they were able to break through. There, Xander Bogaerts — who had the only hit of the game to that point — came through with his second single of the day, and a couple batters later Eduardo Núñez would come up with one on and one out. The infielder got the green light on 3-0 and it paid off, as he took a middle-middle fastball and smoked it out by the left-field foul pole. Just like that, it was a 2-0 lead for the Sox. After the second out of the inning was recorded, Jackie Bradley Jr. added to the lead with a solo homer off a middle-middle fastball of his own.
In the sixth, the Red Sox would add some insurance to that 3-0 lead, too. Once again it was Bogaerts getting the action going, smacking a one-out double out to left field. Shortly after that, the shortstop would keep the pressure on by attempting to steal third. Austin Wynns, the Orioles catcher, made a bad throw down to the bag, allowing the ball to reach the outfield and Bogaerts to cross the plate. That was all Boston would get, but it was a 4-0 lead.
So, Price came out looking for a shutdown inning in the bottom half of the sixth, but he’d get into a little trouble by allowing a one-out double to Adam Jones. The veteran was Baltimore’s first runner to advance more than 90 feet around the diamond. Price would recover, though, getting a strikeouts (on a changeup) and a grounder to strand the runner at second. That ended his phenomenal day, tossing six scoreless innings on just five hits and no walks with ten strikeouts.
After the Red Sox lineup stranded two in the top of the seventh, it was on to Tyler Thornburg in the bottom half. He did his job relatively easily with a quick 1-2-3 inning. Ryan Brasier was up next in the eighth with the same 4-0 lead, and he’d toss a 1-2-3 of his own. Bradley hit his second homer of the day in the top of the ninth, giving Matt Barnes a 5-0 lead to work with in the bottom half. The setup man gave the Red Sox bullpen their third perfect inning and gave his team the win.
So, the Red Sox took the first game of this doubleheader, guaranteeing at least a split for both the day and the series. These two teams will get back out there in just a few hours, weather permitting, with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM ET. The Red Sox will start Hector Velazquez and Baltimore will counter with Yefry Ramirez.
As far as the standings go, the Yankees and Rangers are still playing in New York, with the home team boasting a 5-3 lead in the eighth. If they hold on the lead will stay at nine games, with a chance to push it to 9.5 if Boston can get another win tonight.