The Red Sox had a chance at their second series win of the season on Sunday if they could take this series finale in Baltimore. Instead, they struggled both at the plate and on the mound. Offensively, it was almost literally Kevin Pillar and nobody else for eight innings, with the team at one point going 17 straight batters without a hit. Pillar had the two hits at either end of that streak, with one being a leadoff homer. Jackie Bradley Jr. did make it a one-run game with a two-run homer in the ninth, but it was not enough. On the pitching side, the results weren’t catastrophic, but it was not pretty. Zack Godley managed to work his way out of considerable trouble but could not locate and didn’t make it out of the third. Jeffrey Springs gave up some loud contact as well and Robert Stock handed the eventual winners late momentum. Fun times for these Red Sox.
As the Red Sox were trying to take three of four against the Orioles and snag their second series win of the season, they got off to as good a start as possible. Kevin Pillar was in the leadoff spot for this one with the left-handed Wade LeBlanc on the hill for Baltimore, and on the second pitch of the game the southpaw left a cutter up in the zone over the heart of the plate. Pillar was all over that mistake and smoked it into the Orioles bullpen for a solo shot. Two pitches in, it was a 1-0 lead.
LeBlanc would also issue a two-out walk as the Red Sox wanted to extend their lead, but then the lefty started to have some issues with his elbow. He was removed from the game with just two outs, and the Tom Eshelman came in for Baltimore. The righty walked the first batter he faced to put two on with two outs for Michael Chavis, who had a chance to build some real early momentum for his team. Instead, he struck out and the Sox settled for the one-run lead.
That inning would be the last of the offense for a bit. Literally. That strikeout from Chavis was followed by four consecutive perfect innings from Eshelman to make it 13 in a row.
On the other side, the Red Sox pitching was ugly. That didn’t necessarily mean big innings from the Orioles as Boston’s arms did a good job of walking a tightrope, but make no mistake. These guys, Zack Godley in particular, were bad. Take the first inning for example. The righty starter did get a couple of strikeouts in the inning but also gave up a leadoff double as well as two walks on which none of the eight balls were particularly close or competitive. He managed to wriggle his way out of it for a scoreless inning, though.
The second wouldn’t be quite as ugly, but it certainly wasn’t good. Just like the first, this frame started with a leadoff double off Godley, who would also walk another batter a couple batters later to put two on with one out. Again, though, he’d get out of it. In the third, he had even more control issues, walking two straight with one out and then after getting the second out he walked one more — after a wild pitch on which the ball slipped out of his hand and went roughly 100 feet behind the head of the batter — to load up the bases.
That did mark the end of Godley’s day, who bizarrely had a chance to get scoreless outing despite being able to record only five outs while walking five and allowing a pair of doubles. This would depend on Jeffrey Springs being able to get the last out right away, though. He was not successful. Rio Ruiz welcomed the lefty into the game with a base hit out to right field to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead and put runners on the corners. Andrew Velázquez then took advantage of an unexpecting defense with a bunt to the left side that went for a single and put a third run on the board.
Springs, to his credit, did get out of the inning after that and in the fourth was able to work around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning in part thanks to a pair of strikeouts. He’d come back out for the fifth, too, and once again gave up a double, this one with one out. (And also the second of the game for Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle.) Springs got out number two with a strikeout, and then Phillips Valdez came on looking for the final out to strand the runner at second. With a ground ball, he did just that.
Heading into the sixth, the Orioles sent Miguel Castro in for relief of Eshelman, and the consecutive out streaks ended on the very first pitch as Pillar ripped a base hit into left field to lead off the inning. They’d get another runner on with one out after a J.D. Martinez walk, and Pillar quickly stole third to put runners on the corners for Xander Bogaerts. He came through with a double out to right to bring Boston back to within one with a pair in scoring position and still one out.
Christian Vázquez then hit a ground ball right at the second baseman, who was in, but the Red Sox had the contact play on — for those who don’t know, I absolutely loathe the contact play — which meant Martinez was off on contact. He was subsequently thrown out easily at the plate, and then Chavis struck out to end the inning with two runners on for the second time in the game.
Valdez then came back out for a three-batter sixth, giving up a single with two outs but Renato Núñez was thrown out — jarringly easily, to be honest — at second trying to stretch his wall ball out to left into a double.
After the offense managed just a single in the seventh, Robert Stock, who was just called up after the recent trade of Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree, came on to pitch for Boston. Things did not go well as he allowed back-to-back singles to start things off, and after a sacrifice bunt there were two in scoring position with just one out. Stock got a big strikeout for out number two, but couldn’t finish things off as Rio Ruiz ripped a double out over the head of Pillar in left field to bring two home and open the lead up to a 5-2 score.
The offense responded with their fifth 1-2-3 inning of the day. Then, after Ryan Weber tossed a perfect bottom of the eighth, Boston’s bats had one more chance down by three. Here, they did show some signs of life. Things got started with a one-out walk from pinch hitter Alex Verdugo, and then a couple batters later Bradley came to the plate. Instead of sticking with Mychal Givens, Baltimore decided to go to the left-handed Tanner Scott. That was a mistake as Bradley got a fastball right down the heart of the plate and he went the other way with it to left field for a two-run shot, bringing Boston back to within one. They’d get the tying run on base for Pillar, too, as Jonathan Araúz dropped a bloop into center field. Pillar could not come through, though, hitting a routine ground ball to end the game with a 5-4 win for Baltimore.
The Red Sox now have a day off, which they’ll spend in Baltimore, before heading to Buffalo to take on the Blue Jays. Kyle Hart will get the start on Tuesday while the Jays haven’t yet announced theirs. First pitch for that one is at 6:37 PM ET.