Orioles battle back to tie but can't win Game 1 (updated)

BOSTON – Alex Verdugo took a few steps toward the historic left field wall, waited for the ball to slam against the base of the light tower and heaved his glove in the air, hoping to knock it down upon its return to the field. A signature move on the playground.

Catcher Robinson Chirinos’ two-run homer tied the game in the fifth inning, the eighth ball hit by the Orioles against Nathan Eovaldi with an exit velocity of 100 mph or more.

Would the Orioles rush past the Red Sox, as they did last night by scoring 10 runs in the final three innings? Today’s comeback attempt in the opening game of a doubleheader didn’t cover nearly as much ground. They didn’t trail twice by six.

They didn’t ride the momentum, if there’s such a thing, to another win.

Bobby Dalbec’s first career pinch-hit home run broke the tie in the sixth, the Red Sox tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, and Eovaldi went the distance in a 5-3 victory at Fenway Park.

The nightcap starts at 6:10 p.m. unless it rains. The tarp is on the field as the sky gets darker.

Keegan Akin surrendered only one home run 30 innings this season before Dalbec ran into a 95 mph fastball. He was charged with another run in the seventh after Bryan Baker inherited two runners with two outs and Christian Arroyo reached on a dribbler up the third base line for a 5-3 lead.

Jordan Lyles couldn’t provide the length that manager Brandon Hyde hoped for, lasting a season-low 4 1/3 innings and throwing 93 pitches. Akin inherited runners on the corners and stranded them.

Lyles allowed three runs and a season-high nine hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. All the scoring condensed into one inning. He kept it close.

Hyde might have been more reluctant to push Lyles after the right-hander threw 117 pitches in his last start.  

"I just didn't think he had his best stuff today," Hyde said.

"Just overall, the command wasn't there," Lyles said. "I couldn't really locate my off-speed much at all today. Couldn't really lean on any changeups to any of their lefties or down and in to right-handers. It was just one of those days, bad command. Slider wasn't anything great. Couple punchouts here and there, but just overall, things just weren't working for me."

Two more balls exceeded 100 mph in the fifth after Chirinos’ homer. The hardest came from Trey Mancini, a 110.8 mph line drive in the first inning that almost burned a hole through Rafael Devers’ glove, the play ruled an error despite the vicious velo.

The Orioles manufactured a run in the first inning and briefly had two.

Cedric Mullins led off with an infield single and Devers dropped Mancini’s liner hit directly at him. Anthony Santander bounced a single into left-center for a 1-0 lead.

Austin Hays popped up and Ryan Mountcastle bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning, but the initial call had him safe at first base as Mancini alertly came home. Arroyo’s high throw pulled Franchy Cordero off the bag, but the Red Sox challenged the ruling and won.

All of it happened in 13 pitches from Eovaldi.

Mancini still gets credit for heads-up baserunning. Just as Mullins and Rougned Odor deserve it after Verdugo tried to score from first base on Christian Arroyo’s double with no outs in the second inning.

Mullins retrieved the ball in left-center and fired to Odor, who couldn’t get Arroyo but alertly threw to the plate to nab Verdugo, with a nice tag from Chirinos completing the sequence.

Hyde praised his team last night for its baserunning and defense. Smart baseball that leads to wins.

It didn’t lead to a clean inning for Lyles.

Kevin Plawecki walked with the count full and two outs, and Lyles got two strikes on Jackie Bradley Jr. before a game-tying double down the left field line. Kiké Hernández gave Boston a 3-1 lead with a ball that deflected off Ramón Urías' glove as he attempted a diving stop.

"I threw one good changeup today and that was a base hit to Devers," Lyles said. "Like up under his arm. I threw one good one that I felt good about and it still went for a hit. Just a lot of changeups out of the hand that were automatic balls that guys didn't have to respect. Didn't land any curveballs for strikes early in counts. Kind of became a one-pitch pitcher with the slider and it wasn't moving as much as it normally moves, so it was a grind. A big-time grind. The definition of grinding.

"Hope we find some video that we can lean on and get things back in order for next start, but it was definitely a grind out there for me."

Devers doubled before Lyles struck out J.D. Martinez on his 51st pitch of the game.

"He had a really long second inning, I think a 40-pitch second inning," Hyde said. "He got some bad breaks. A tough hop for Urías there, a bad break there for us. Just didn't think he had the command that he had in New York and he's had the majority of the season. Just didn't have his best stuff, but he grinded. Really happy with how competitive he was, pitching into the (fifth) inning. Obviously, it's a tough lineup, tough ballpark to pitch in today, and he gave us a chance."

Lyles needed only eight pitches to retire the side in order in the third. Because baseball. And Chirinos followed Urías' leadoff double in the fifth with his second home run of the season and the third by an Orioles catcher.

Anthony Bemboom had the other, and he’s been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk after clearing waivers.

Adley Rutschman will take a crack at it in Game 2.

Lyles didn't let the opener get away from him when it easily could have, a small win on a day that ended with a no-decision.

"It was kind of weird," he said. "I felt like with the stuff I had today, there should have been a lot more runs scored. There were a lot of hits. And then we could have got out of that inning with less runs in three innings. So, all the way around it was a little weird. Props to their guy going the distance. He didn't have his best stuff early on, either, but was able to settle down and give them some much-needed innings for the second game coming up."

Eovaldi’s 16 home runs allowed are one more than his 2021 total in 32 starts, and two more than any Red Sox pitcher in club history has surrendered in his first 10 games, but he finished with his first career nine-inning complete game.

Hays led off the ninth with a single, but Mountcastle struck out and Odor hit into a double play, ending his hitting streak at 11 games.

"He's got really good stuff and we have a tough time with him almost every time out," Hyde said. "He was throwing 98 there in the last inning. He's got a really good split, good slider, good curveball. He's a tough at-bat. We did a good job against him early. We left a first-and-second, nobody-out situation after scoring a run in the first inning. We couldn't add on there and that kind of hurt."

Denyi Reyes makes his first career start in the nightcap.

Orioles and Red Sox lineups for Game 2
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