With the series finale of a wraparound four-game set on Monday, the Red Sox were looking to keep a trend going. This was already the third series between Boston and Baltimore this season, and in the first two the team that won the first game ultimately completed a sweep. The Red Sox needed one more win to keep that trend alive. Unfortuantely, the bats didn’t get the memo. Going up against a version of Jorge López that looked better than others we’ve seen this year, Boston’s offense just didn’t have it. Martín Pérez did a good job keeping them in it, but he was removed curiously early, the Orioles quickly got one more run and that was all they needed. The decision to lift the starter was one I certainly did not agree with, but ultimately this loss is on the offense more than anything else.
The Red Sox were looking for a sweep over the Orioles on Monday, and there were signs pointing towards it coming down to a battle of lineups for the win in this game. Not only has the Boston offense been able to beat up on Baltimore’s pitching in Camden this year, but they were going up against a guy in Jorge López who has bounced around the league, they’ve seen and hit this year, and who entered action with an ERA over 6.00. It seemed like a good day for the offense to stay hot.
Instead, López came into this game with some of the best stuff we’ve seen from him. Granted, he’s always been able to miss bats, but he had a little extra zip on the heat tonight and he was commanding all of his pitches better than is typical. As a result, the Red Sox offense didn’t really have anything going early. Over the first three innings against the Orioles righty, Boston managed just a single baserunner on a two-out single from J.D. Martinez.
Over on the other side, Martín Pérez was going for Boston, and given how he’s pitched for much of this year he’s always a threat to give him a chunk of runs to any offense. But just like on the other side, it was the pitcher getting the best of this battle. The first few innings for the Red Sox lefty was not quite as crisp as it was for López, with the second inning in particular being trouble.
In fact, it was trouble right off the bat with Ryan Mountcastle leading off the inning. A top prospect who is known for his bat, it’s been a bit of a tough start to the year but he reminded everyone of his talent in this at bat. Pérez left a cutter middle-in that Mountcastle was not going to let go by. Instead, he launched it well into the seats out in left field, and it gave Baltimore the 1-0 lead.
The stress of the inning didn’t end with the homer either, as Baltimore kept the pressure on. Pedro Severino followed the home run up immediately with a base hit, and a couple batters later Pérez issued a walk. That put two on with only one out, and the Orioles were threatening to take a commanding lead early in this game. Pérez was able to navigate through the jam with two massive strikeouts, and although the Red Sox were behind it felt like a win to get out of the inning with the deficit at just one.
From there, things were smooth for the southpaw against the Orioles lineup. Over the next three innings to get through five he allowed just a pair of singles without allowing any runner to get beyond first base. Somewhat curiously, this was the end of his outing at just 74 pitches and one tough inning on the day.
As for the Red Sox offense, from here we circle back to the top of the fourth with the score sitting at 1-0. To that point, Martinez had the only hit on the night for Boston, and he made it the only two hits with one out in the fourth to put another man on base. Xander Bogaerts was then hit in the upper leg with a pitch to put two on, and those two moved up to scoring position thanks to a wild pitch. That brought Rafael Devers to the plate and he came through with a sacrifice fly, and the Red Sox were able to tie the game at one despite having just one player in their lineup with a hit to their name.
They were able to threaten again in the fifth, too, as they looked to take a lead for the first time in the game. Hunter Renfroe continued to be red hot at the plate as he started off the inning with a rocket of a double high off the wall in right-center field. He’d then get over to third on a ground ball, so the Red Sox just needed another fly ball to get the go-ahead run in. They didn’t get it. Instead, both Bobby Dalbec and Marwin Gonzalez struck out and the Red Sox squandered the leadoff double as the game remained tied.
That was still the case when we entered the bottom of the sixth, with Matt Andriese coming in for Pérez. We mentioned above that it was curious to see the lefty taken out with such a low pitch count, and the second-guessing would quickly become easier. Trey Mancini was the first batter Andriese faced in the game, and ripped a cutter down in the zone over the middle of the plate for a solo home run, and just like that it was a 2-1 lead for Baltimore. Andriese did give up a single right after that too, but a double play helped make the rest of the inning go by without any more runs coming across.
The offense now had to play some catch up as the trailing team, but it wasn’t going to be in the seventh as they quickly went down in order. After Andriese did the same to Baltimore in the bottom of the inning, Boston now had six more outs to at least try and extend this game. But alas, they went down in order once again.
In the bottom of the eighth, Andriese came back out for a third inning of work and Baltimore extended their lead a bit. It started strangely, with Cedric Mullins hitting a pop up to shallow left field. Both Bogaerts and Devers chased after it, and the former bobbled it a couple times running back. The ball hung up for a bit and no one was covering third, a confluence of events allowing Mullins to get one of the oddest triples you’ll ever see. A walk and a single later, it was a 3-1 game and Phillips Valdez was entering for Andriese. He gave up one more on a sacrifice fly.
Now, it was a three-run game deficit for the Red Sox to try and come back from with just three outs to play with. The offense just couldn’t muster anything close to a comeback, going down in order once again to finish off the 4-1 loss. Boston’s record now drops to 22-14.
The Red Sox now head back to Boston for a three-game set against the Athletics starting on Tuesday. It’ll be Nathan Eovaldi taking on Chris Bassit for the first game, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.