It’s the same old story. While the season started with a highly disappointing and ultimately damaging road trip, the team’s performance at home has been the real issue in 2019. It only makes sense that this would continue into the final series of the year. On Friday, the Red Sox offense was totally shut down by Asher Wojciechowski and the Orioles bullpen. Baltimore had one pretty big inning, and that was all they needed. Such is life for the Sox in 2019.
Among the many reasons this Red Sox season has not gone according to plan has been their play at Fenway Park. For as long as I can remember, and really for basically the entire franchise’s history, the Red Sox have thrived at home and the difference between the good and mediocre years has generally been their performance on the road. That has flipped this year, for a whole lot of reasons that we won’t begin to get into in this space. The point is: They looked pretty lifeless at home yet again in their third-to-last game!
The Red Sox offense was going up against a pitcher in Asher Wojciechowski who has, frankly, been bad this year. Boston has struggled against him this year, though, and that continued here as well. It wasn’t because they didn’t have their chances, but they just failed to come through. For example, Xander Bogaerts pounded a two-out double off the Monster in the first, but they couldn’t follow it up with more.
They continued from there. In the second, Brock Holt led off with a base hit and Gorkys Hernández drew a two-out walk, but the Sox left a runner in scoring position for a second straight frame. They got another leadoff hit in the third, but a double play ruined any chance at a rally there.
The best chance came in the fourth, when Sam Travis was hit in the elbow with a pitch with two outs. That was followed with Jackie Bradley Jr. smacking a double out to right field. Travis tried to come around to score, but he was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Things sort of fizzled from there, as Boston went down in order for the next two innings.
On the other side, Nathan Eovaldi was going to have to pitch as well as he has all year. The righty was solid but, well, it wasn’t the dominance they needed given the inactivity from the offense. Eovaldi did look good early, though, issuing just a walk in the first before working around a couple of baserunners in a scoreless second.
Then, in the third, the Orioles got going at the plate. After a quick first out, Austin Hays got the rally going with a hustle double out to right field. Trey Mancini then drew a walk before Eovaldi threw a wild pitch. Suddenly, there were two runners in scoring position in a scoreless game. As it turns out, however, it wouldn’t matter where the runners were. Renato Núñez was up with two outs and he smashed a three-run homer out to left field. Just like that, the scoreless tie was broken and the Orioles had a 3-0 lead.
That was the lead that would last going forward. Eovaldi would make it through two more scoreless innings after that third. In all, in his final start of the season he tossed five innings, allowing the three runs on three strikeouts, four walks and three hits. After him, Hector Velázquez came on for a scoreless inning of work in which he worked around a bases loaded jam and Colten Brewer came on for the seventh for a scoreless inning of his own.
After the Red Sox finally got into the Orioles bullpen in the seventh but still went down in order, Andrew Cashner came on for the eighth. He did issue a couple of two-out walks but got out of the inning unscathed. Boston would then strike out three times in a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.
Marcus Walden came on for the top of the ninth, and he allowed one run. So, now the offense had a 4-0 deficit to overcome with only three more outs to do it. The Red Sox did get one run on a Xander Bogaerts RBI, but that was it. Another loss at Fenway for Boston.
The Red Sox and Orioles will play their penultimate game of the year on Saturday afternoon. Jhoulys Chacín gets the start for Boston while John Means goes for Baltimore.