Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Red Sox had won their previous two games as they tried to turn a corner following their horrid start to the season. They looked to Rick Porcello to hold the momentum set by Eduardo Rodriguez on Friday, but he was not up to the task. The righty’s control was totally nonexistent as it has been all year, and he walked five guys in just four-plus innings of work, allowing eleven baserunners total on the day. He did a decent job in limiting damage as he was only charged with three runs, but that wasn’t representative of his performance. Meanwhile, the bullpen had one of their worst days of the season with Colten Brewer being particularly ineffective. His inning really put the game comfortably in Baltimore’s hands. The offense was led by Christian Vázquez and did plate five runs, but they had chances to do much more than that. Frustrating day all around.
After Friday night’s game in which Eduardo Rodriguez dominated the Orioles and put together far and away the best start we’ve seen from a Red Sox starting pitching in 2019, the hope was that his success would carry over to the rest of his rotation-mates. That quest started with Rick Porcello on Saturday and, well, the lesson is never dream because you’ll only be let down. In terms of runs allowed it was a solid enough day for the 2016 Cy Young winner, but we know better than to judge based solely on that kind of result. As has been the case all year so far, Porcello’s typically impeccable control just wasn’t there for this game. He let on far too many free baserunners, and that in turn drove up the pitch count and forced an early exit. In other words, more of the same for 2019 Porcello.
He didn’t waste much time getting himself into trouble, either. After a quick first out to start off the day, Porcello quickly gave up a double for Trey Mancini and the trouble started. With the runner in scoring position, the righty then walked two of the next three batters he faced. That would load the bases for the hitless Chris Davis, but he would shake the “hitless” tag at an inopportune time for Porcello and the Sox. Baltimore’s first baseman got his first hit of the year with a base hit through the right side, scoring two runs and giving the Orioles an early 2-0 lead. Porcello did get out of the jam without any further damage, but the pitch count was up and his team was in the hole.
He only got into more trouble in the second inning, too. That frame, like the first, started with an out but then trouble started brewing with a walk, a single and another walk with one out mixed in between. Once again, Porcello was in a jam with the bases full and two outs. Once again, he did work his way out of it by inducing a pop out to end the inning and keep Baltimore from adding to their lead. The third was easily his best inning of the afternoon as he came through with an eight-pitch 1-2-3 effort, before getting back into trouble in the fourth. There he gave up a leadoff single before allowing yet another walk, this one with two outs, but the Orioles stranded two more runners there.
While all of this was happening, the hope would at least be that the Red Sox offense would be able to pick up their starting pitcher against Andrew Cashner. The Orioles righty certainly has had his moments throughout his career, but he wasn’t particularly sharp in this game, nor has he been sharp over the last couple of years. Boston still struggled to take advantage. They did get a leadoff runner on base in the first when Andrew Benintendi drew a walk, but he was quickly caught stealing and the Sox would only send three to the plate in that inning.
After going down in order in the second, they did get the ball rolling a bit in the second. Still trailing 2-0 at this point, Rafael Devers started this inning off with a walk. A couple of batters later, Christian Vázquez came to the plate. The catcher obviously doesn’t provide a ton with the bat very often, but he had a big swing here. Cashner threw a 3-1 curveball that Vázquez was ready for, and the latter crushed it off the light tower in left field. Just like that, this game was all tied up.
From here, we fast-forward to the top of the fifth with the score still tied and Porcello still hanging around in the game. That would not last much longer. He allowed back-to-back singles to begin the inning and that marked the end of a day that included a whopping five walks plus six hits over four-plus innings. Heath Hembree then came on to try and escape the jam, and once again Davis came through. The lefty smoked a double out to right field scoring one more run and Baltimore had a lead again and were threatening for a lot more. Fortunately, Hembree got out of it from there with two fly outs and a strike out, keeping the score within one.
In the sixth, however, Colten Brewer couldn’t say the same. The lone new face on the 2019 Red Sox had been impressive for most of the start of this season heading into this game. There have been some lapses in control, but generally speaking he’s worked his way out of it. That wasn’t the case here. The righty had absolutely nothing going here and Alex Cora allowed him to stay in long enough to change the scope of the game. Brewer allowed a walk, a single, another walk and then two more singles before being removed having not even record an out. The Orioles had a 6-2 lead by the time Brewer had left, and Marcus Walden came on in relief. He did allow one inherited run to score, but it could have been much worse.
So, suddenly the Red Sox were trailing 7-2 and had four innings to mount a comeback. They got themselves off to a nice start in the bottom half of the sixth with a Benintendi double and a Mookie Betts single to put runners on the corners right off the bat. Those two hits also drove Cashner out of the game, putting the game in the hands of the bullpens. They did get a run in that situation, but it came on a double play which was a trade-off Baltimore will take every time.
Walden came back out for the seventh and he struggled while also getting little help from his defense. Not a great combination! The Orioles ended up scoring two more in the inning to go up 9-3 with both Steve Pearce and Devers making blunders. Fortunately, the offense did get some back in the bottom half thanks to a two-run double from Vázquez. They had a chance for even more with two on and two out for Betts. He got to a 2-0 count then let a middle-in fastball go by before eventually hitting a lazy fly ball to right field to end the rally. It’s...frustrating.
That was basically the game, as the Red Sox couldn’t put together any more solid rallies over the last two innings. Of note is that Hector Velázquez, who is supposed to be starting Monday’s Patriots Day game, came on for the ninth. Perhaps Cora is just praying for rain.
Boston will look to bounce back from this one and maintain their chance to take this series in another afternoon game on Sunday. They’ll be sending David Price out to the hill and he’ll go up against John Means. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.