The Red Sox kept chipping away, but poor pitching, soft defense, and a lack of timely hitting contributed to a loss to the Orioles — who belted out 15 hits on the night — in the first of a four game series at Fenway Park.
It was the second straight rough outing for John Lackey who did his best to rein in his emotions on a frustrating night on defense for the Red Sox — even though no one was charged with an error. The big righthander did himself no favors on the mound with his pitching performance. Lackey would last just 5.1 innings, giving up 10 hits, 6 runs, 4 walks, and a wild pitch to go along with 6 strikeouts. This was the second poor outing for Lackey who also gave up 10 hits and 6 runs in 5.2 innings against the Yankees last weekend. Andrew Miller would come on to relieve Lackey to close out the sixth.
It was the first time in Lackey’s career that he allowed that many runs and hits in consecutive games. The four walks set a season high and marked his most in a game since last July in Oakland.
“I thought [Lackey] had good stuff tonight,” Farrell said. “He managed a lineup with a couple of walks that were, instead of giving in, but they had a number of ground balls that found some holes, they were able to bunch some hits together. He doesn’t get a break early in that first inning on the double and then the infield base hit by Jones and then the two-run single in that fifth inning, that was a little bit too much at that point to overcome.”
The Orioles picked up momentum early when Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis led off the game with a double down the left field line that appeared to land in foul territory, but the call on the field was fair. Red Sox manager John Farrell challenged, and after a 2:56 delay, the MLB replay center ruled that the call on the field would stand. Markakis would eventually come in to score on an infield single by Adam Jones.
“It looked pretty foul to me,” Lackey said of the controversial call.
The non-reversal made the Red Sox 0-for-4 on challenges for the season at the time.
“We challenged it and it came back inconclusive,” Farrell said. “…There’s really no need to go out and look [to see if the chalk was marked by the ball] because video’s available to us. We followed the steps that are available to us and unfortunately the call stands.”
Baltimore would do more damage on offense in the third inning when Red Sox killer Nelson Cruz drove in Markakis and Chris Davis with a line single to right field making it 4-0 Birds. Jonathan Schoop led off the third with an infield hit that swallowed up Xander Bogaerts at short then scored all the way from first on a double down the right field line by Markakis.
“They had a couple of walks but there were in spots that weren’t that big a deal against guys I didn’t really want to give in to,” Lackey said when asked about his control. “I felt OK with it.”
The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the second inning, but got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when rookie Brock Holt, who was called up before the game and started at third base, picked up an RBI ground ball base hit in a grinding 10-pitch at-bat — driving in Mike Carp who doubled to start the fourth.
“Any time you can contribute, anywhere you’re at, it’s good,” Holt said. “It’s a good feeling.”
The Orioles would extend their lead by scoring two more runs in the fifth off Lackey when Matt Wieters grounded a single to right to drive in Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy drove in Cruz with a line single to right.
The Red Sox chipped away in the bottom of the fifth when A. J. Pierzynski drove in Dustin Pedroia with a base hit to make it 6-3 O’s. Daniel Nava doubled and came home on a base hit by Pedroia to score the Red Sox second run of the night earlier in the inning.
Shoop, the O’s No. 9 hitter who had four hits on the night, would double home Hardy in the seventh inning and pick up another RBI double in the ninth inning to drive in the eighth run of the night for the O’s off reliever Edward Mujica.
With the Red Sox down by three and one out in the 7th inning, Xander Bogaerts ripped a single off the Wall that scored Mike Napoli who hit a wall-scraping double earlier. But Bogaerts was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double on a close play. A veteran player might have been a bit more cautious given the situation.
The Defense Rests
Tough night for the Red Sox makeshift defense. Xander Bogaerts got swallowed up on an RBI ground ball base hit in the first and could not reach a pop up that fell between him and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth inning. Brock Holt could not reach a line drive base hit in the fifth that Will Middlebrooks may have been able to snag. Mike Carp was a bit shaky at first base.
The Red Sox finally won an appeal in the bottom of the eighth when Brock Holt was called out at first but the replay showed his foot touched the bag just before the ball disappeared in Chris Davis’ glove. They had been 0-for-4 on challenges.
The Red Sox left the bases loaded without pushing home a run in the second inning. For the game, the Red Sox were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position, leaving a total of 12 men on base for the game.
The Red Sox have now lost the first game in five of their six series so far this season.