Much like they treated the starting pitcher they faced Sunday, the Boston Red Sox showed the Orioles how potent they can be when offered another opportunity.
After Baltimore opened the 2021 season sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Orioles suffered the same fate at their home park, dropping Sunday’s series finale, 14-9, for their fifth loss in six games after starting 3-0. Baltimore blew leads the series’ first two games, and it seemed Sunday they would simply be blown out before Maikel Franco and Trey Mancini each provided three-run home runs in the middle innings.
Those blasts might have kept the Orioles (4-5) from falling below .500 for the first time in 2021 had they not allowed six home runs themselves. Right-hander Jorge López entered the third inning of a scoreless game having limited Boston to one hit, but Franchy Cordero began the frame with an infield single, with a quick replay review overturning an incorrect out call. After Kiké Hernández followed a single, Alex Verdugo smacked a three-run home run to left field, the first of his first career against Baltimore. J.D. Martinez went back-to-back with a solo shot, his 26th longball against the Orioles; he added his 27th in the sixth and 28th in the eighth for his thirdcareer three-homer game.
“They’re swinging the bat better right now,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “They’ve got some guys that are really hot. J.D. obviously is on fire.”
The Red Sox (6-3) opened what became a five-run sixth inning with three straight singles from the top of the order off López, ending his outing. Through two starts, he’s allowed three hits, all singles, in 17 at-bats the first time he faces an opposing lineup, striking out six and walking none. But when opposing hitters have gotten an extra chance to face him, they’re 8-for-19 with three home runs and four walks. In his career as a starter, López has allowed a .980 OPS when facing batters after the first time through the order.
“I gotta be better,” López said. “Just give the team a chance to keep improving.”
Rule 5 draftee Mac Sceroler, who pitched 2 ⅔ hitless innings in his major league debut, got the first out of the frame behind López before allowing another three-run homer by Rafael Devers, who went deep in each game of the series. Four of the next five Red Sox reached base against Sceroler, with Hernández getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in Boston’s ninth run.
Martinez’s sixth-inning homer off Sceroler made it an even 10, and he provided the 11th by hammering a changeup from the Tyler Wells, the Orioles’ other Rule 5 pick, in the eighth. Of Martinez’s 16 career multi-homer games, six have come off Baltimore pitching. Devers added a second home run of his own off Shawn Armstrong in the eighth, and the Red Sox scored their 14th run when middle infielders Rio Ruiz and Ramón Urías both made errors on the same play.
“It just got away from us,” Hyde said.
In a ninth inning that could bode well for the Orioles’ bullpen going forward, left-hander Paul Fry struck out Verdugo, Martinez and Devers.
When he pinch-hit for Anthony Santander in Sunday’s sixth inning, Ryan McKenna had been in the majors for nearly a week but was still searching for his first major league hit.
He changed that by sending a 1-1 curveball from starting pitcher Nick Pivetta to deep center field, where Hernández was unable to make a catch against the wall. McKenna, known for his speed as he came up through the Orioles’ system, lost his helmet as he approached second, slowed for a bit rounding the bag, then took off for third, sliding in feet first as he became the first Oriole to triple for his first hit since Manny Machado in 2012.
“It was actually funny because my first ever hit in professional baseball was a triple,” McKenna said. “It was a pretty similar hit, and I was thinking the other day, ‘That would’ve been pretty cool if that happened.’”
Added Hyde: “Nice to see young guys get opportunity and take advantage.”
DJ Stewart walked a batter later, and he and McKenna both scored when Franco homered to left. It gave Franco four RBIs after he had singled to drive in Ryan Mountcastle, who had doubled to lead off the fourth.
Mullins led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, took third on a wild pitch and came home on Mancini’s groundout.
McKenna followed with a single and took second and third on defensive indifference — the latter drawing applause from the remainder of the announced crowd of 8,171 — and was able to score Baltimore’s ninth run on a wild pitch.
Insult to injury
The Orioles might have rallied sooner if not for an unfortunate end to the third inning. Two walks and an error loaded the bases for Santander, who fouled off the first six pitches he saw from Pivetta. He took an elevated fastball and fouled off another pitch before umpire Andy Fletcher ruled a seemingly inside pitch strike three.
Two pitches into Mountcastle’s subsequent at-bat, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to score on a ball to the backstop and was called out at home. Umpires reviewed the play and Galvis lay at home plate with an apparent injury. Replay ruled him out, and he remained in the game until Urías replaced him in the seventh.
Hyde said he just wanted to give Santander a break in what was at that point a nine-run game, while Galvis’ status will be updated Monday after he took “a little blow to his knee and his ankle” in a home-plate collision that kept the Orioles from scoring in the frame.
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