In the second game of their doubleheader against the Orioles, the Red Sox sat Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez and their absences became more glaringly obvious as the night wore on. Their abilities would have been particularly helpful with men on base for the Red Sox, who stranded eight runners in a 4-1 loss to Baltimore on Saturday night.
The Orioles started a rookie and reached deep into their bullpen to rotate arms in and the Sox found little success against any of them. Boston managed just two runs on nine hits and a three-run bomb from a guy hitting .232 this season proved to be enough to push the O’s past their interdivisional foes.
Josh Winckowski, making his major league debut, labored through the first inning, throwing 10 of his 16 total pitches for balls and walking two, which is uncharacteristic given that he had walked just two over last five Triple-A starts combined. NESN cameras locked in on him as he walked back to the dugout and his face displayed a mixture of relief and disappointment after he had to work around a bases-loaded jam.
The Sox offense gave him about five minutes of rest before being retired in order and forcing him back to the mound, but Winckowski was unphased. He bounced back marvelously, sitting the O’s down 1-2-3 with some hard fastballs that touched 96 mph, which he used to finish off his first major league strikeout, and tailing sinkers at 94 mph, which he used to close his second strikeout.
Franchy Cordero and Bobby Dalbec started a two-out rally in the home half of the third with consecutive singles and it looked like Jackie Bradley Jr. was well on his way to breaking the scoreless tie immediately after. He hit a sharp liner back up the middle, but Jorge Mateo made a nice running catch to rob JBJ of a hit and the Sox of at least one run.
In the third, Winckowski got two quick outs but lost his command during the next two at-bats in which he walked Anthony Santander and gave up a single to Austin Hays. That put runners on first and second and because he was moving on contact, Hays scored easily from second on a single from Urias. The Orioles really created some separation with their very next batter. Rougned Odor smacked one of those low sinkers that had induced ground balls in the first two frames and sent it flying over the Red Sox bullpen for a three-run homer. Winckowski gave up another double before finally collecting the third and final out of his first start.
With the bullpen having been spared in game one by a complete-game performance from Nathan Eovaldi, Alex Cora quickly sprung for Austin Davis, who took over at the start of the fourth and pitched a clean inning.
Just as the Orioles roughed up Winckowski during their second time through the order, the Red Sox broke through against rookie Denyi Reyes upon getting a second look. Trevor Story led off the fourth with a double down the left-field line and Alex Verdugo moved him along with a sacrifice fly that fell within feet of the Oriole bullpen in right. Christain Vazquez then singled to score Story easily from third.
From there, both bullpens locked down their opposing offenses for the next few innings.
Reyes appeared rattled when he walked Cordero to set up Dalbec with a first and second, one out chance, but he showed some nerves of steel and struck out the Boston first baseman on a beautiful slider that fell well out of the reach of Dalbec’s extended arms. That was where Reyes’ night ended and Joey Krehbiel’s began. He blew a fastball past JBJ to strand runners on first and second and hold the Sox to just one run. He also threw a scoreless fifth inning despite surrendering a double to Enrique Hernandez. Felix Bautista came in for the sixth and pitched around a one-out hit to hold the score at 4-1. He started the seventh and recorded two quick outs before being pulled for Cionel Perez, who needed just one pitch to end the seventh.
Ryan Braiser, who was just called up from his brief stint in Worcester to replace IL-bound Hansel Robles, got the nod in the fifth for the Red Sox and sat the middle third of the Oriole order down without issue. Tyler Danish relieved him at the start of the sixth inning and needed just eight pitches to get three outs. Jake Deikman, tabbed with pitching the seventh, walked Cedric Mullins but stranded him thanks to a couple of pop-outs and a strikeout. Even Matt Barnes got in on the fun in the eighth. He survived a throwing error from understudy shortstop Christian Arroyo that put a runner in scoring position and some loud contact from Odor to complete a personally much-needed scoreless frame.
The Red Sox created some drama in the eighth when Vazquez hammered a double off of the center-field wall. Bogaerts entered as a pinch hitter for Cordero and lit a fire under the crowd and the Orioles responded by subbing out Perez for Jorge Lopez, who has probably been their best bullpen arm all season long. In a battle between stars, Lopez won by inducing a soft groundout to strand another Sox runner.
After Phillips Valdez, another recent call-up from Triple-A, handled the Orioles in the top of the ninth (thanks to a well-turned double play by Story, who was under duress from a hard break-up slide), the Sox had three outs to score three runs with their seven, eight and nine hitters scheduled to hit against Lopez.
Dalbec legged out an infield hit, taking advantage of a small bobble from the shortstop Mateo, then JBJ laced a single to right field. Because Dalbec was able to go first to third, a fielder's choice off the bat of Arroyo gave him enough time to score. Hernandez had a chance to bring Devers to the plate representing the winning run, but he instead hit into a game-ending double play.
With that loss, the Red Sox fell to 22-25 and, despite having lost two of three to Baltimore this weekend, can still win the series if they emerge victorious on Sunday and Monday.