BOSTON - The Orioles left the bases loaded in the first inning last night and came up empty after working Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz for 34 pitches. They had two runners in scoring position in the first inning tonight and again couldn’t put a run on the board.
If the lack of clutch hitting wasn’t enough of an irritant, the Orioles allowed three straight two-out singles tonight in the bottom of the first, botched a rundown and fell behind by two runs.
This is how a losing streak can stretch to three games, which would have been the longest of the season, and how a team can lose more ground in the division race. But the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, teed off on Kyle Kendrick and gained a split of the series.
The only ejection was the ball that Manny Machado removed from Fenway Park.
The Orioles scored five runs in the fourth, the last three on Machado’s third homer of the series, Seth Smith reached base five times and the Orioles defeated the Red Sox 8-3.
Every Orioles starter had a hit, with Caleb Joseph finally joining the party in the seventh inning. Smith went 4-for-4 with a walk to tie his career high in hits and raise his average from .222 to .286.
Brad Brach retired the side in order in the eighth inning and Zach Britton stranded a runner in the ninth in his second appearance since coming off the disabled list.
The Orioles went 3-4 on the road trip and are 17-10 as they head home. They’re a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East.
Smith went 3-for-3 with two RBIs against Kendrick, making his first major league start since October 2015. Smith is 15-for-26 lifetime against Kendrick after his two-run double in the fourth inning tied the game 3-3.
Adam Jones struck out looking, but Machado cleared the Green Monster and enjoyed another trip around the bases with the sounds of booing in his mix tape.
The Orioles scored twice in the fifth to increase their lead to 8-3. J.J. Hardy had an RBI single, his fourth hit in the last three games, and Jones delivered a run on an infield hit, the ball striking third base and taking a high bounce.
Smith walked before Jones came to the plate, the fourth time he reached base in five innings. He’s embracing the role of leadoff hitter.
Tyler Wilson gave the Orioles a quality start in an emergency, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings with no walks, one strikeout a balk.. He served up Dustin Pedoria’s first home run of the season leading off the bottom of the third, a curveball disappearing into the night, but he retired the next 11 batters and 12 of the last 13 before Donnie Hart replaced him.
Manager Buck Showalter kept Wilson in the game for 84 pitches and will praise him to the media in a few minutes.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh on two infield hits and a walk. Andrew Benintendi sent a Mychal Givens pitch to the right field track, where defensive replacement Joey Rickard made a sprawling catch while falling backward and barely holding onto the ball. Givens waited for him in front of the dugout. The steak dinner comes later.
Wilson retired the first two batters in the first inning on a fly ball and strikeout, relying mostly on a fastball that was 91-92 mph. Mookie Betts reached on an infield hit, Hanley Ramirez singled and Xander Bogaerts poked a slider over Jonathan Schoop’s head to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
What ensued was a fundamental breakdown. The Orioles work on rundown drills every day in spring training, and they had Bogaerts hung up between first and second tonight. Chris Davis threw to Schoop, who ran Bogaerts back to first. Just one problem. No one was covering the bag.
Davis passed Schoop, who didn’t look home until it was too late.
Ramirez scored, the Red Sox led 2-0 and Showalter fought the urge to gather his team on the back fields at Ed Smith Stadium.
The Orioles cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the third on a double steal with two outs and Davis at the plate. Machado broke for second, drew the throw from catcher Christian Vázquez and Smith raced home.
They would be a lethal combination tonight.
It was the Orioles’ first steal of home since Jimmy Paredes on May 27, 2015 versus the Astros. They have nine stolen bases this season after totaling only 19 in 2016.
Showalter on Wilson: “That was special. It’s the thing you like about Tyler. He’s dependable, competitive and a guy like him is always going to be a guy that you’re going to reach for with tiebreakers. He pitched well here once before as a starter. We wanted to take him six at the most. He had only thrown four innings this year and 80-some pitches. You could tell today he was looking forward to the challenge.”
Showalter on good rotation depth that also includes Alec Asher and Jayson Aquino: “We said that coming out of spring. We thought in that department we were going to be able to cover ourselves a little bit better. Tonight was a good indicator and we’ve got a couple others down there. Now we’ll see if we have to do some other ... It worked out good because we’ve got everybody now and it goes back to the job that (Richard) Bleier and (Ubaldo) Jiménez did yesterday. That was key for us to be able to get back on our feet a little bit.”
Showalter on Smith: “I called up there. They got him 4.2 down the line, so he’s out of the bag. We’ve got him now. Seth’s had a track record of doing that for a long time. Other than going to Ole Miss, there’s a lot of things pointing forward for him. He had some success off Kendrick coming into tonight, but he’s the type of guy who may not even know it.”
Showalter on Machado: “It doesn’t surprise anybody, all the things he showed with a lot of the challenges that come his way. We’re proud of him. He’s going to answer the challenge. If anybody doesn’t think that, they haven’t been watching.”
Showalter summarizing four games: “Seemed like we played a baseball game tonight instead of all the drama, so we’re looking forward to getting back in that flow again. Came close to winning two out of three in New York, just couldn’t get it done. They’re playing really well. Time to get home and get in front of some friendly faces. I know our guys are looking forward to getting back home. Not getting out of here. It’s just part of what you have to do on the road.”
Showalter on emotions in the series: “You can’t live in that world. Otherwise, you’re going to stay on a rollercoaster. We had challenges in New York, we had challenges in Toronto, we’ll have challenges in Tampa, we’ll have challenges when we go to another ... Sometimes we tend to think this little snippet of a season ... and you can’t live in that world. You turn the page. If you don’t, you’re going to have a long year.”
Showalter on Rickard catch: “We’ve got two really good defenders that we can bring off the bench if they’re not starting and Joey made a really good play out there. You knew they were going to make a run at you somewhere.”
Showalter on no drama: “There’s a lot of drama that you deal with. Sometimes you have to wonder if it’s inflicted or self-inflicted. I don’t dwell on it too much. We’re looking forward to getting on with the rest of the season.”
Smith on whether he enjoys leadoff role: “I think we talked about it before, it’s really no different other than you have to prepare yourself to be ready earlier in the game to hit when you’re the first guy. So you’ve got to get ready to go. But after that first at-bat especially, you just kind of flow with the lineup and whatever situation presents itself you attack it accordingly.”
Smith on first stolen bases since May 20, 2014 and it’s a steal of home: “Well, it’s a little different than a traditional stolen base. So it’s really just a circumstantial thing where if they said, ‘Go if they throw to second,’ and I went and they tried to get the out at second to end the inning and weren’t able to, so I was able to score.”
Smith on no drama: “Well, we showed up today just ready to play a baseball game, ending a road trip, try to win this game on getaway day.”
Smith on Machado: Manny’s our three-hole hitter, third base and he’s the guy that we expect to do the things he’s been doing - hit balls really hard and making plays at third base.”
Machado on win: “You know, we got the split. We came back and we battled the last four games. We beat a great team two times out of four, so it’s a good day. Now we get to go home and continue doing business and handling what we need to do.”
Machado on what it meant to him personally: “You know what? I don’t care. I just feel like I’m getting back in the groove. It’s been a month now that I’ve struggled a little bit and I’m finally, little by little, taking baby steps, feeling better at the plate, seeing the ball a little better and making some good contact with the ball.”
Machado on what statement he sent: “I mean, I’m just trying to make good swings. I go in there, I make my routine every day. Come in here, do what I’ve got to do in the weight room, keep the same routine every day. I think I finally found it and I’ve just got to continue the right way.”
Machado on being booed: “I mean, it doesn’t bother me. I try to zone in. I’ve got to face a guy throwing 98, 92, with nasty stuff up there. That’s where my concentrations lay, always.”
Machado on playing a regular game: “We’re just coming out here and playing. At the end of the day, we came out here, tried to win this game. We didn’t want to lose the series, so we left it out on the field. Like I said, we’re just glad that we came out with two-two and split the series. We’ll just have to continue. We’ve got Chicago tomorrow coming into town, and we’ve got to handle a little business and do what we’re doing.”
Machado on whether he was relieved no nonsense: “What nonsense? We’re playing baseball. What happens between the field stays between the lines. We’ve just got to go out there and control what we can control and go about our business.”
Machado on whether his thoughts on Red Sox changed: “This is my team. I play for Baltimore. I bleed for this team. I’m going to die out there, I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to keep this team going.”
Machado on rivalry: “It’s always been something. They’re the team to beat. We’ve got Toronto, the Yankees in the mix. There’s the whole division. Everyone is our rival and the biggest opponent we have is ourselves. We’ve just got to go out there and do the small things that count, and that are going to take us to the next level. Not just hit longballs. Like we did today, good baserunning, played great D, our pitching. Tyler came in there and did a hell of a job today. That’s what we’ve got to do, do the small things to take us to the promised land.”
Wilson on enjoying the challenge: “I really enjoyed it. I was grateful for the opportunity from the time getting the call all the way up until learning that I was starting and throughout the game today. Obviously, there’s a lot going on in the game right now and I was just thankful to be the one called on to go out and challenge those guys and give our team a chance to win.”
Wilson on whether he thought he’d start: “For the years that I’ve been doing this, obviously talking to you guys these last three years, I keep my expectations at a minimum. I try to take advantage of my name being called, whether that’s in a starting role or in the bullpen or long, short, anything. I just try and take what’s given to me and control the things that I can control. I know I say that to you guys all the time. There are so many variables in this game that are outside of what I can control, so I was just focused on getting here and being ready when my number is called.”