Pressed into service as an emergency starter for an Orioles team experiencing an unprecedented September pitching shortage in the final week of the season, rookie Ryan Meisinger erased leadoff man Mookie Betts’ single on a fielder’s choice. Then he watched the next five batters reach base and score as Boston piled it on in a 19-3 win Wednesday afternoon to open a doubleheader at Fenway Park.
The 16-run margin is the Orioles’ most lopsided defeat of a club-worst season, topping a 14-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 7. The 112th loss also set a franchise record. The 1939 St. Louis Browns went 43-111.
“It didn’t go how I wanted it to, but you can’t use that as an excuse,” Meisinger said. “I haven’t made a start since college, but it’s still pitching. Once you’re out there, it’s relatively the same thing. I just didn’t get it done today.”
Meisinger was one of four actual pitchers used for the Orioles, including Donnie Hart, John Means and Cody Carroll. None began the season in the majors and, after Wednesday, none boast an ERA below 5.00. Utility man Jace Peterson, instead of coming in from second base after the bottom of the seventh inning, jogged out to the bullpen to warm up and make his major league pitching debut to finish the eighth.
“It’s definitely a little difficult,” Meisinger said. “Guys are trying to pick up innings, and it’s unfortunate that we’ve had some injuries, but at the same time, everybody needs to pick up their share. I just didn’t do that today.”
By the time Peterson came in, things had gotten quite out of hand. Hart inherited the bases loaded from Meisinger and allowed all three runs to score on a double down the left-field line by Rafael Devers. Hart made it to the third inning, when John Means — who two weeks ago was home in Kansas City but was summoned to Sarasota, Fla., to start throwing again and brought to Boston to give the Orioles some innings — made his major league debut.
Means got through a clean third inning before allowing a three-run home run over everything in left field to J.D. Martinez, surrendering five runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.
“That’s a tough spot for John,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I knew it was going to be a challenge for him. That’s one of the best teams in baseball, if not the [best]. You’re going to get a lot of mistakes magnified.
“It’s not [what I imagined] with the team not doing as well as they had hoped, but being here is really all I care about,” Means said of his major league debut. “I know going forward that it’ll be a lot better.”
Carroll allowed five runs on three homers in his 1 2/3 innings, and Peterson, who entered as a defensive replacement at second base in the seventh, allowed four runs in the eighth.
“There’s some guys, whether it’s Meisinger or Means or Carroll, that the presentation right now is not what it’s going to be,” Showalter said.” There’s better days ahead of those guys. You actually may not think so now, but it’s a tough learning curve. It’s never as bad as it seems, or never as good as it seems. Tough spots. Even Donnie Hart, he’s pitching in situations he shouldn’t be pitching in.”
Boston’s star-studded core used the matinee — rescheduled from Tuesday because of rain — to pad their stats. Betts, a Most Valuable Player candidate, stole his 30th base, reached three times in three at-bats and left the game in the fifth inning.
Xander Bogaerts came into the game with 96 RBIs and left in the seventh inning with an even 100. Martinez had three hits, including a home run, and Devers homered twice.
All of the Orioles’ offense came in the second inning, when they sent nine batters to the plate and enjoyed Trey Mancini’s 24th home run of the season and a two-run home run by Renato Núñez. Outfielder Joey Rickard had the team’s only multihit game, collecting two of the Orioles’ eight hits. Boston had 22 hits, including nine doubles and five home runs.