Through two games, the Red Sox had compiled a grand total of two runs and nine hits. J.D. Martinez had four of those nine hits. The non-J.D. Martinez members of the Boston Red Sox entered today’s game hitting .093/.167/.093. That’s just awful by any stretch, against any team.
The team was also without Rafael Devers, one of their best offensive players, for Sunday’s game against Bruce Zimmermann, a pitcher with all of seven innings of work to show for on his major league ledger.
As it would turn out, the offense would be sorely needed because the Orioles hopped out to a lead instantly off one of the newest members of the Red Sox, Garrett Richards. Cedric Mullins jumped on a fastball that caught too much of the plate for a double, and Trey Mancini hit a decent slider just out of the reach of Xander Bogaerts to move the runner over.
First blood went to Anthony Santander, who dribbled a ball weakly that was able to get through the hole in the infield, which was playing in. Being down 1-0 from the outset is less than ideal. Even less ideal is being down 3-0, as a result of a Maikel Franco ground ball that barely stayed fair down the left field line; which of course, is what happened. Richards also struck out two batters, but will obviously need to be better as three-run, 30-pitch innings are not conducive to success, no matter how many guys you strike out.
The top half of the inning took around 20 minutes. The bottom half took around two minutes. You can probably ascertain why, as the Red Sox went quietly and in order for their half against Zimmermann. They did the same in the second inning.
Richards didn’t get better as the game went on. He was able to avoid giving up runs in the second inning, but it was another labor-intensive frame that featured too many baserunners. He was given another chance in the third, but it took all of 13 pitches for Alex Cora to call it a day for Richards, who departed with the bases loaded. Richards final line ended up as two-plus innings on seven hits, six runs (all earned), two walks, and two strikeouts in one of the most painful pitching performances I can honestly recall. It felt like a 2020 Red Sox game with how poor the pitching was. That is not a good thing.
After walking the bases loaded, Alex Cora turned to Josh Taylor, who was also not good. After surrendering a walk and a double, he was able to retire the first batter of the inning via punch-out. Taylor then gave up a sharp line drive to Cedric Mullins, which probably would have been a double (his third of the game), were it not for Enrique Hernández making what had appeared to be an incredible diving catch. But then it was overturned and ended up as a single. I think? I don’t know, it was very chaotic. Trey Mancini drove in the seventh and eighth runs of the game shortly after, negating whatever good feeling Sox fans may have had. Then a wild pitch brought in the ninth run before Santander made it a 10-0 lead on another single. That was all she wrote for Taylor.
The third pitcher was Garrett Whitlock, who would prove to be the superior Garrett of the day. It took him four pitches to get an out. This made Whitlock’s performance in the third approximately 2500% better than anyone else to grace the mound for the Sox to that point in the game.
On the other side, the Red Sox got their first hit in the bottom of the third. That’s right, the Orioles scored 10 runs before the Red Sox even got their first hit. Christian Vázquez gave the ball a ride to left field, that clanked off the Monster for a double. Christian Arroyo moved Vázquez over to third on a liner that hit the pitcher. before Hernández drove in Vázquez for the Red Sox first run of the morning, over an hour after the game started.
2021 has been good to J.D. Martinez so far, and it was true today as well, as it was the return of Just Dingers. Martinez was responsible for the first home run of the Red Sox season, just as everyone expected. A lot of things are not going great for the Sox in 2021, so it would be ideal if Martinez could stay hot long enough for the rest of the team to get itself sorted. He also hit a double later on in the game, his third of the season, and it also brought in Hernandez for the third Red Sox run.
Bruce Zimmermann finally departed the game for Baltimore in the sixth inning. With his day done, we can see just how truly lifeless the Sox offense was this series against Orioles starting pitching. In 17 2⁄3 innings against John Means, Matt Harvey, and Bruce Zimmermann, the Red Sox tallied 11 hits, five earned runs, two walks, and 14 strikeouts. Not ideal.
Whitlock for his part did great in relief. Through 2 2⁄3 innings, Richards and Taylor combined for 12 hits, three walks, 10 earned runs, and four strikeouts. Whitlock threw 3 1⁄3 innings in relief and gave up only three hits the entire time. He also struck out five. His performance was a bright spot in a dismal day for the Sox.
My personal favorite reliever, Hirokazu Sawamura, also made an appearance. While he walked two batters, he also struck out two, and most importantly, also kept the Orioles off the board in his appearance.
Matt Barnes also made his season debut. He gave up a walk, and got two strikeouts on 14 total pitches, which is pretty much exactly what the Red Sox needed in a day with nothing but deep counts. Adam Ottavino made his debut as well in the next inning, becoming the last pitcher to make his debut in 2021. His debut wasn’t as clean, as he gave up the first run in several innings to the Orioles.
On the whole, after the removal of Richards and Taylor, the Red Sox pitchers combined for 6 1⁄3 innings, five hits, one earned run, five walks, and 11 strikeouts. While the final score can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored, it is at least encouraging that the key members of the pen pitched well, and it was largely the fault of one pitcher that just happened to start the game that it went out of hand early (and had that pitcher not exploded, there would have been no need for Taylor, who also exploded, compounding the issue). I won’t tell you how to feel, but for as bad as the game was, I feel comfortable saying that I don’t expect Richards to be this bad going forward. Onward and upward.
The Red Sox try again (fourth time’s the charm, right?) tomorrow night at 7:10 PM ET, as the Red Sox welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to town.