An Orioles offense that broke out a day earlier reverted to its old ways Sunday at Fenway Park, collecting just five hits and getting shut out for the first time this season in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox and their one-time ace, David Price.
The Orioles left runners in scoring position the last four innings, failing to erase an early one-run deficit before a three-run home run off Josh Lucas in the eighth inning put the game out of touch.
“What cost us the game was not being able to move runners and score runners off David Price, who was really good today, and you’ve got to be able to execute with him on the mound,” manager Brandon Hyde. “And not being able to keep the ball in the ballpark in the eighth inning after we put together a nice rally in the top half.”
Price, who pitched seven shutout innings, stranded leadoff doubles by Richie Martin and Trey Mancini in the sixth and seventh inning, and had done the same to a leadoff single by Renato Núñez in the second inning.
The Orioles' best chance to erase the one run Boston pushed across against left-hander John Means, on a sacrifice fly by Xander Bogaerts in the fourth inning, came in the eighth against reliever Ryan Brazier.
Brazier walked pinch-hitter Rio Ruiz with one out, and Jonathan Villar singled to send him to third base with two outs, but pinch hitter Dwight Smith Jr. lined out to center field to leave them both stranded.
A walk by Mancini and a single by Hanser Alberto in the ninth inning meant the Orioles left a runner in scoring position for the fourth straight inning when Chris Davis struck out looking to end the game.
“Honestly, it was us not taking advantage of opportunities that we had early, offensively,” center fielder Cedric Mullins said. “We had guys on second base with no outs, and we just couldn't execute plays, including myself. I had an opportunity to move the guy over and botched it. That's kind of what cost us today.”
““Means was really good,” Hyde said. “He gave us a chance to win. We just couldn’t… runner on second base and nobody outs three times and you don’t advance him once, it’s tough to win that way.”
Means allowed one run on four hits in five innings to bring his ERA below two at 1.98, and the relief corps of Evan Phillips, Paul Fry and Lucas tried to keep it a one-run game. They did so until Fry allowed a leadoff single in the eighth and Lucas allowed that run and two more to score on a home run by Bogaerts that accounted for the final four-run margin.
The Orioles (6-10), however, showed that Saturday's 13-hit, nine-run outburst was an anomaly of sorts. In the three preceding games, the hit column finished with four for the Orioles each time. Only Alberto’s ninth-inning single pushed them past that Sunday, with five hits.
In the sixth inning, with Phillips on the mound and Bogaerts at the plate, Orioles pitching coach Doug Brocail's displeasure with the umpires was such that he was ejected by first base umpire Stu Scheurwater.
“There were a few questionable check swings that didn’t go our way,” Hyde said. “All three didn’t go our way, and I think Broc had enough. There was a lot of yelling from the dugout and Broc got singled out.”
The next pitch was a check-swing that home plate umpire Ben May didn't even appeal to first on before ringing Bogaerts up.
On the first day the Orioles haven't had to live with Davis' ignominious hitless streak, they set another major league record they'd rather have avoided.
Bogaerts' three-run home run off Josh Lucas in the eighth inning meant the Orioles have allowed a home run in the first 16 games of the season, tying a major league record set by the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies.