Before a sold-out home crowd Saturday night, the Orioles lost an emotionally charged 7-3 contest to the Boston Red Sox, a game in the standings and chunks of their visiting dugout phone.
Maybe this has the potential to become an actual rivalry after all.
Sitting through a 27-minute rain delay before the first pitch, an announced crowd of 44,765 — the sixth home sellout this season — witnessed a Boston beatdown that included several strange plays and an epic tirade by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
Ortiz's bat-swinging, phone-case breaking, expletive-spewing antics overshadowed the Orioles' shaky pitching and an inability to score despite ample opportunities.
With the Red Sox holding a five-run lead in the seventh, Ortiz was taking on a 3-0 count against reliever Jairo Asencio. Umpire Tim Timmons called a strike on a borderline pitch.
Ortiz squawked to Timmons, who then called another strike on Ortiz — again on a pitch that appeared to be a ball. Ortiz swung through the next offering for a strikeout and began barking at Timmons. The burly designated hitter walked away, mockingly saluted the veteran umpire and then went into the visiting dugout and swung several times at the wall phone, sending pieces of its cover flying and teammate Dustin Pedroia cowering on the bench.
Timmons immediately ejected Ortiz, who stormed out of the dugout and, while screaming, had to be restrained by a couple of coaches and manager John Farrell. Ortiz then threw his elbow pads onto the field and, in the dugout, exchanged brief words with Pedroia, who was imploring Ortiz to calm down.
"It's all their business," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think everybody was frustrated. It's their business. It didn't affect us. I'm not going to get involved in other team's business unless it affects ours."
Ortiz was ejected for the 10th time of his career and could be facing a fine or suspension for his actions. And a potential bill from the Maryland Stadium Authority.
"What I'm going to tell you is I have 17 years in the league and I don't think I deserved to be disrespected like that," Ortiz said. "If you wanna get respect from the player then you respect the player and that was horrible. Both of them pitches, not just the one. Intentionally walk me I don't mind going to first base. So why do you have to call pitches like that a strike? It was a ball. The catcher let go and (it) hit him in face. I don't pitch. I don't play defense. I hit. You're not going to take my at-bats away from me."
The dugout phone received about the same fate as Orioles pitchers.
Right-hander Scott Feldman, making his fifth start for the Orioles after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs this month, lasted just five innings, allowing four runs on six hits, including two homers.
"I felt fine," Feldman said. "It really just came down to that fourth inning. Gave up a couple two-out knocks and then made a bad pitch to Drew and he hit it over the fence. That's not how I want things to go but he is a good hitter and I just made a bad pitch to him right there. And he did damage with it."
Feldman (2-2) had never given up a home run in his career pitching at Camden Yards, which included two previous starts for the Orioles and seven appearances for the Texas Rangers in Baltimore. Entering Saturday, Feldman had the second-longest such streak at Camden Yards, behind former Orioles' reliever Mark Eichhorn's 431/3 homerless innings.
Feldman's run ended at 38 innings in the fourth when he served up a three-run shot to shortstop Stephen Drew, who hadn't homered since June 4, a span of 95 at-bats. Feldman retired the first two batters in the inning before allowing consecutive singles and then Drew's sixth homer of the year.
Drew picked up his seventh homer in his next at-bat and it was a memorable one, albeit rather unusual. Facing left-hander Troy Patton in the sixth, Drew hit a deep fly to right that Nick Markakis tracked to the wall, but the ball eluded his grasp, struck the lip above the grounds crew shed and caromed into center field.
Drew raced around third and then tried to pull up, only to get caught in a rundown. But Orioles catcher Matt Wieters threw the ball wildly to Patton at home, allowing Drew to score for what would have been an inside-the-park homer.
It was reviewed by the umpires and ruled a traditional home run — the first time that a replay home run call changed the official scoring but not the score. Regardless, Drew ended up with the second multihomer game of his career, though he only enjoyed one home run trot. The five RBIs tied Drew's career high.
"They didn't score it an inside-the-park home run, did they? Excuse me? I would have done the same thing (appeal like Farrell) because from a statistical standpoint, your player would probably like to have the home run," Showalter said. "It was a home run. They got it right. The other one's not an inside-the-park home run."
Drew also helped set up Boston's first run in the third inning against Feldman. He led off with a single to right that could have been extra bases, but Markakis played the ball off the wall perfectly to keep Drew at first.
Drew moved to second on a groundout and then to third on another strange play. Jacoby Ellsbury singled into left field while his bat nipped Wieters' mitt. Catcher's interference was called, but since it was already a single and Drew had already advanced to third, the rules maintain that the hit takes precedent over the umpire's call.
Drew stayed at third — he would have had to return to second on the interference call — and then scored on a groundout by Victorino, who added a homer in the seventh against Asencio.
The Orioles had plenty of chances to score against Dempster (6-8), who allowed six hits and two walks but just two earned runs in 51/3 innings. The only run that scored while he was in the game was an RBI single by Brian Roberts in the fifth. An inherited runner scored in the sixth on a Wieters' groundout.
In the eighth, the Orioles made it a four-run game on an infield single by Hardy. But again they couldn't take advantage of opportunities. For the game, the Orioles were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine base runners.
The Orioles (58-47) and Red Sox (62-43) face off today in the series' rubber match. The Orioles have won six straight series between the teams heading into today.