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Red Sox - 0, Orioles - 5: One-Hit Wojciechowski (Plus Orioles Bullpen)

That was just awful. In a season full of awkwardly bad games, this one may be among the most awkward.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

First impressions are everything, or so they say. When you apply for a job, you are supposed to dress nice, show what would make you a model employee, and otherwise be a pleasant person to be around. When meeting a person for the first time, you should be friendly, smile, and shake their hand with a firm grip (but not too firm).

In baseball, you should probably not do what Andrew Cashner did in his first start against the Blue Jays. Luckily, I think we’re pretty forgiving, all we ask is he not repeat history against the Orioles. That optimism lasted for all of one batter. Because Trey Mancini’s first inning home run started things off on the wrong foot, yet again.

He did put out the fire by striking out the next two (in addition to the first batter of the inning), making for a rare three strikeout inning, but that home run hurt in a year where the Red Sox have been giving up far too many first inning runs. While not the worst in the league at it, they were too close to the top 10 for a team that is trying to compete.

MLB: JUL 21 Red Sox at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

His second inning wasn’t much better. He walked the first batter of the inning, a man who entered the game with a .284 on base percentage, and then two batters later gave up a double that scored that runner. He locked it down after, but this was becoming a bad trend.

Third time’s the charm, right? We’d get a scoreless inning this time around, surely. It’s cute of you to hope, but no. A soft ground ball poked through the infield, and then Trey Mancini hit another home run, making the score 4-0, because to this point, the Red Sox bats were absolutely stymied by Asher Wojciechowski, who had struck out a total of seven times through the first three frames, including two by Mookie Betts, who had been red-hot since the all-star break (.421/.465/.684). The only batters to get the ball in play were Rafael Devers and Marco Hernandez. Were it not for Brock Holt getting hit by a pitch, they’d be on perfect game watch in the third.

The fourth inning did not bring a base hit. But Wojciechowski blew his 93 mile per hour stuff by two more batters. At this point, in the fourth inning, he had a new career high in strikeouts. He had nine through four frames. The Red Sox offense was somehow even more embarrassing than Cashner’s first two outings in a Red Sox uniform.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Cashner amazingly did do a better job in his half, as he got three straight groundouts. If you remove the first three innings, he was actually doing a really good job. If the Red Sox bats would just wake up, there’d be a chance to crawl back into this one (story of the season, right?) and thus a chance to stay relevant in the wild card race.

The Red Sox bats disagreed. Another quick inning, and Cashner would be back on the mound for his fifth inning of work. After a leadoff single, Christian Vazquez threw a rocket to catch the runner stealing. Cashner responded with a walk. And up came Red Sox killer Trey Mancini, who had already homered twice off Cashner. Thankfully, this time, he kept the ball on the ground, and it was an inning ending double play. That’ll work. Now if the Red Sox bats wake up, we’re in business!

MLB: JUL 21 Red Sox at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Strong narrator voice: They did not wake up. A leadoff walk, the first leadoff baserunner of the game, was immediately taken out by a ground ball double play hit by Marco Hernandez. All hopes for not getting totally shut down in the first six innings would rest on Mookie Betts. He did not get the ball out of the infield, and the fielder did not make a mistake. Six no-hit innings by the Red Sox against Asher Wojciechowski.

He would start his 7th inning, chasing history, up around 85 pitches. If he was going to finish this game, he’d need a couple of quick innings. Maybe this was in the back of his mind. Because Rafael Devers drove a pitch to deep right field, and almost out of play. No-hitter over. Phew. That was almost too embarrassing. Now we can settle for a normal, 2019-Red Sox-level of embarrassment.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Andrew Cashner was removed prior to the beginning of the 7th inning, so let’s take a look at his numbers today. He finished with 6 innings, pitched, 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, and 4 earned runs against. Not the best outing, but one that is certainly workable for your fifth best pitcher. As badly as the game started... this is an outing you will take from Cashner every time out, since it at least keeps your team in the game. Further, he had awful HR luck today, as three of the runs were scored on two home runs (both to the same player). If you were to look at his outing, and looked beyond the home runs, he actually had a pretty strong outing. Unfortunately, you can’t take the dingers out of the equation, and many fans will point at his performance for why the team lost. These fans are wrong.

Hats off to Asher Wojciechowski, who finished his outing in the 8th inning, after walking Jackie Bradley Jr. He allowed one base hit all game, and it was to the best player in baseball (let me have this, it’s been a rough weekend) Rafael Devers. Don’t at me.

Meanwhile, Marcus Walden pitched a scoreless inning, and Heath Hembree did not. Jonathan Villar hit a home run, making it four of five runs scored via the long ball. That’s not ideal.

MLB: JUL 21 Red Sox at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Red Sox entered the 9th inning down five runs, with the top of the lineup up. If anyone is gonna do anything, it’s these guys. Mookie started the inning with a walk, and stole second base. Progress! Devers then hit a rocket to right field, which was caught (the line doesn’t do Devers justice, he was consistently on everything, and everything was hit into the outfield, they just didn’t fall today). Xander Bogaerts drove a ball into left center field that was only caught because Stevie Wilkerson is an athletic human being who caught up to a ball he had no business catching. Then J.D. Martinez meekly grounded to second and the game was over.

The Red Sox were shut out. Terrible.

The Red Sox fall to 54-46, and play the Rays starting tomorrow in a do-or-die series that may determine if the Red Sox even try to get help at the deadline. Regardless of whether or not they decide to go for it... I think we can all agree we want to see better baseball than what we saw today. It was an unacceptable performance from the offense, who got all of one hit.

The Good

  • Rafael Devers got a base hit. That’s literally it.

The Bad

  • The rest of the Red Sox offense was awful.
  • So many home runs allowed.
  • We lost a key series to the Orioles. Were it not for yesterday’s explosion, we might be talking about a sweep.

The Meh

  • Andrew Cashner was acceptable. If it wasn’t for the Red Sox offense, he might have actually had a chance of winning this game.