The Red Sox started their season with a bang on Friday, but it was not about to carry over to Saturday afternoon’s contest. The Red Sox were bad in just about every facet of this game. Martín Pérez was terrible in his first two innings to put the team in an early hole, though he did settle down for his final three frames. The offense was utterly overmatched against Alex Cobb, with Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers having particularly rough days. Devers made his second error in as many games. The bullpen — and specifically Dylan Covey — gave up two runs just as momentum was gathering on the other side. And the manager made a weird decision using Covey in that situation in the first place. Not a great day at the park! On a brighter note, Alex Verdugo did get three hits in his Red Sox debut and Mitch Moreland hit the team’s first homer of the year.
The Red Sox were flying high coming into Saturday afternoon’s game, but this was the first real test of the brutal pitching staff as Martín Pérez was getting the start. My biggest complaint about the lefty has been that, while he did allow soft contact last year, he allows so much contact and misses so few bats that he opens himself up to the “bad luck” that did him in at times in Minnesota. And so it was fitting that the first batter he faced hit a relatively soft ground ball against the shift for a base hit. It was “bad luck” right off the bat.
It wasn’t all misfortune that got to the new Red Sox southpaw early on in this game, though. That leadoff single was immediately followed by a solid double from Hanser Alberto to put a pair in scoring position with nobody out. Pérez did battle back after that, getting a strikeout and a fly out, the latter of which was misread by Austin Hays, who could not come in to score. So Pérez was one out away from getting out of the inning, but Renato Núñez had another idea. He jumped on the first pitch he saw and smoked it off the Monster to give Baltimore the 2-0 lead. Then, after a wild pitch moved the runner to third, Pedro Severino hit a soft ground ball to third base. Rafael Devers charged it, but it bounced off the heel of his glove, and his second error of the year gave Baltimore the 3-0 lead.
Things didn’t get a whole lot better for Pérez as we headed to the second, either. In fact, this inning started the same exact way with a single through the right side with the infield loaded on the left side. That was followed with a four-pitch walk, and once again the first two runners were on base. Pérez got a pop up after that for the first out, but then he gave up back-to-back straight singles (on solid contact, for what it’s worth) and that was two more runs on the board for Baltimore and there were still two men on with just one out. Fortunately, the Orioles are still the Orioles, and the Red Sox caught a break. Anthony Santander hit a pop up to second base for an easy out, but Alberto lost track of outs in the inning and was doubled up to end the inning.
The good news is that Pérez settled down in a big after those rough first two innings in which he allowed five runs. In the third, he allowed just a walk before tossing perfect innings in both the fourth and fifth. In the end, he allowed the five runs but did get through five innings, which was not expected, and he retired ten of his final 11 batters.
The bad news is the offense could not provide him any support as Alex Cobb looked quite a bit like the Rays version of Alex Cobb. The Red Sox didn’t help themselves, either. The Orioles righty, to his credit, did a nice job commanding the edge of the zone with the fastball and then after getting ahead in counts he did a good job of getting some ugly swings on his splitter. The result was a zero on the scoreboard for the Red Sox through five innings with just two of those frames even seeing a runner in scoring position.
Once Pérez’s day was over, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the bullpen for the sixth, and he got the job done with a 1-2-3 inning.
That brought Cobb back out for the sixth, and he continued doing what he does to strike out Devers to start the inning. That brought Mitch Moreland to the plate, and finally the shutout was broken. The Red Sox first baseman got a 1-1 fastball middle in and he put it just barely over the short wall in the right field corner for a solo homer, knocking Cobb out of the game and bringing Boston to within four.
Paul Fry came in next for Baltimore and immediately got the right-handed José Peraza to fly out to center field. That brought back-to-back lefties to the plate in Alex Verdugo and Jackie Bradley Jr., and they came through with a pair of singles. The latter put Verdugo on third and Bradley moved to second on the throw over. That brought Kevin Plawecki to the plate with a pair in scoring position, and with three catchers on the roster it was a bit surprising to not see him pinch hit for. It worked out, though, as his ground ball up the middle was misplayed by Alberto — José Iglesias cut in front of him and it seemed to throw him off as he double pumped — and the Red Sox made it a 5-2 game.
With runners on the corners now and two outs, Xander Bogaerts came off the bench for Tzu-Wei Lin, and the Orioles countered by going back to the bullpen to bring in Miguel Castro. Bogaerts could not come through, though, striking out on three pitches and Boston had to settle for the three-run deficit after six.
It was a brand new ballgame, though, and for some reason Ron Roenicke called on Dylan Covey to make his debut with the team in the seventh. This will not be a great memory for the righty. The damage started with a couple of singles, the latter of which was a blooper that put runners on the corner with two outs and Santander coming to the plate. Covey tried to sneak a breaking ball down and in, but the Orioles outfielder was ready for it and put it in the right field corner for a two-run double. Just like that, it was another five-run lead for Baltimore.
The Red Sox came back out and responded to that with a scoreless inning that featured just a hit batter, and that basically felt like the end. Through the rest of the game, Verdugo got his third hit of the day as one of the lone bright spots on the day for Boston, Covey came back out for a scoreless eighth, and Josh Osich tossed a scoreless ninth in his Red Sox debut.
The other notable event at the end of this game was Verdugo getting tossed after arguing with the first base umpire on his way off the field following the top of the ninth inning. As of this writing, the cause of this argument is unknown. But, yeah. That’s about it. In the end, it was a 7-2 win for Baltimore at Fenway.
So, the Red Sox are now left with a rubber match on Friday to avoid dropping their opening series this season to the Orioles. At home. That one will start at 1:35 PM ET on Sunday, and Ryan Weber is set to face off against Wade LeBlanc.