The Red Sox have been playing their best baseball of the year over these last couple weeks of May, and it seemed like they should be able to keep it rolling for five games over four days against the Orioles. Baltimore turned out to be a more difficult matchup that we anticipated, and in the rubber match on Monday at Fenway it was a romp for the road team. Rich Hill got hit around early and put the team in an early hole, and the offense got absolutely nothing going against Tyler Wells. Put it all together and you get an ugly shutout loss.
More robust game notes below.
It has been kind of a bizarre season for Rich Hill, which counterintuitively kind of makes sense for a 42-year-old pitcher who can’t hit 90 mph in an era in which velocity is king. He has had plenty of outings, including the last one, where he is more or less unhittable. Last time he literally was until he made his one mistake, which ultimately led to a loss. But every few outings he seems to just not have it, whether it be a lack of command, something being off with his mechanics, or some sort of tip that the other team has picked up on. Monday seemed to be the latter kind of outing.
Right off the bat, his command just was not there and his release point was all out of whack. The veteran yanked a few fastballs on the inner half to start the game against Austin Hays, eventually hitting him with a pitch to put him on. Immediately after that, Trey Mancini tripled off the Monster in left-center field — it took a weird bounce on Enrique Hernández, which allowed Mancini to stretch it to three — to make it a 1-0 game. Hill caught a break after that when a wild pitch took a nice ricochet off the wall behind home plate, allowing him to hustle to the plate, diving in to tag out Mancini for the first out. That proved fortunate, because Ryan Mountcastle immediately followed things up with a laster of a home run to left field.
There was hard contact after that, but Hill got out of the inning, and was also able to get through a scoreless second, though that came despite allowing another triple (and another moment of Hernández struggling with the wall) and issuing a walk. He wasn’t as lucky in the third with a rally that started with a weak infield single from Mountcastle. A couple batters later, Ramón Urías sent a two-run shot out to left-center field, the second homer for Baltimore off of Hill and one that doubled their lead to four.
Hill had his only perfect inning in the fourth before coming out for the fifth and getting into quick trouble. He started things off by issuing a walk to Mancini before Mountcastle ripped a line drive just down the line in left field. It hopped into the crowd, putting a pair in scoring position with nobody out. Alex Cora had seen enough at that point, coming out to get Hirokazu Sawamura (who was called up today with Matt Strahm hitting the COVID list) to try and escape the jam. The righty allowed each of his inherited runners to come home, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a ground out, but that was it.
So that was six runs for Baltimore over the first five innings. You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned anything about Boston’s offense in this game, and that’s because they didn’t really do much of anything off Orioles starter Tyler Wells. It took until Trevor Story, the sixth batter in the lineup, for them to get a base runner, and his single was all they got through three. They finally got a runner into scoring position with a Xander Bogaerts double with two outs in the fourth, but he was left standing there to keep the score 6-0.
That was still the score heading into the seventh, with Ryan Brasier coming on to replace Sawamura, who tossed a perfect sixth. Brasier was not perfect, instead giving up a double and a single to start the inning. Following a relatively lengthy delay after having to switch out home plate umpires after John Tumpane was hit in the mask with a foul tip, a run did come home, but it was on a double play in a trade that the Red Sox surely were willing to take. That was all the runs for the inning, but it was still a seven-run hole for the offense.
They went down in order in the seventh, and then after Brasier worked around a pair of runners in the eighth, the bats only had six outs remaining. They did get a one-out double from Christian Vázquez, but nothing more. Baltimore answered that non-rally by hitting a three-run homer off Matt Barnes to open up a 10-run lead, and that was that. The Red Sox wouldn’t score in the bottom half of the ninth, and the Orioles took the five-game series.
The Red Sox will look to recover here with a quick two-game set against the Reds. The first game is on Tuesday, with Michael Wacha taking on Luis Castillo. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.