O's game blog: The series with Boston continues

The Orioles began a long homestand last night and they once again struggled for offense. They didn’t score until Ryan Mountcastle blasted a 423-foot homer in the last of the ninth in a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The Orioles (6-14) have now lost five games in a row. They are also now 3-4 at home (scoring just 18 runs), 3-8 at night, 3-4 in series openers, 1-11 when their opponent scores first and 2-8 versus the American League East. The Red Sox improved to 9-12.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish made a solid major league debut, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits over six innings on 81 pitches. But he took the loss as the Orioles were held to just five hits for the fourth time this year and second time in three games.

The Orioles are now 13-6 dating back to 2008 when their starting pitcher was making his big league debut.

Mountcastle’s second homer avoided a shutout, and the blast had 111 mph exit velocity. Mountcastle produced three of the top 10 exit velocities in the game as he also smoked a lineout at 106 and a single at 102 mph.

Boston third sacker Rafael Devers went 2-for-4 and produced four balls hit 100+. He drove a double at 113 mph, a groundout at 112, a single at 108.5 and groundout at 101 mph.

Including last night's loss, the Orioles have been held to two runs or fewer 11 times in 20 games. On the plus side, the Baltimore bullpen threw three scoreless innings, with Keegan Akin pitching 2 2/3 and Jorge López getting one out. This marked the seventh time this season the Orioles bullpen has thrown a scoreless game.

Last night's DH, Austin Hays, went 2-for-3 with a walk and is now 8-for-18 (.444) with two homers and six RBIs in his last five games. He has recorded a team-leading six multi-hit performances in his last 13 games.

O's right-hander Spenser Watkins (0-0, 2.97 ERA) is on the mound for Baltimore tonight making his fourth 2022 outing. He has thrown 13 innings, allowing nine hits and four earned runs with seven walks to five strikeouts.

Watkins, who went 2-7 with an 8.07 ERA and 1.701 WHIP last year, has thrown 57, 67 and 76 pitches in his three games, building a bit more each time. The Orioles are 1-2 in his starts. In his most recent outing, on Saturday at Angel Stadium, he allowed three hits and two runs over five innings.

Watkins went to Driveline Baseball in Seattle this past offseason and it helped him with a velocity bump. His average fastball last year was 90.8 mph, and now it is 92.5. But ironically, he is throwing his fastball less, from 47 percent usage last season to 35 percent now. His fastball also made gains in spin rate, and he now ranks among the top 24 percent in the majors in fastball spin rate and is in the top 40 percent in in hard-hit rate against. Watkins also has made major gains so far in getting ground balls. His grounder rate has jumped from 34 percent last year to 52 percent now.

In his last three starts, Watkins has allowed just one earned run, one earned run and two earned runs. He is certainly not a big strikeout pitcher, and in fact got just six swings and misses combined over his first two starts. Then he got seven swings and misses by Angels hitters last Saturday in Anaheim.

Here is a wild stat: Lefty batters are 0-for-24 this year versus Watkins, who held lefty batters to 0-for-10 in Anaheim. But right-handed batters are hitting .360 (9-for-25) against him with a 1.208 OPS.

Righty Nate Eovaldi (1-0, 3.32 ERA) will make his fifth start for Boston. In 21 2/3 innings this year he has allowed 21 hits and eight runs with three walks and 24 strikeouts.

But he has allowed seven homers on the year, including six in three road starts. That gives him a homer rate of 2.9 now, and it was 0.7 last season and is 1.0 for his career. So the homers allowed are way up thus far.

In his last start, Monday at Toronto, he gave up five hits and two runs, both on solo homers, over seven innings on 72 pitches. In three road starts, he is 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA and has walked two and fanned 18 over 17 innings. The Red Sox are 2-2 in his four starts.

Eovaldi went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 16 1/3 innings last year against Baltimore batters. For 15 career starts, he is 7-2 with a 3.74 ERA. In 77 innings he has walked 27, fanned 73 and has a WHIP of 1.416.

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