The Orioles played one of their most complete games of the season last night, much to the delight of manager Brandon Hyde. A quality start, scoreless relief, hits from everyone in the lineup, smart baserunning and tight defense.
The hard part is duplicating it.
A five-run third inning enabled the Orioles to tie the game. The bats were still humming. But Eshelman and Yacabonis couldn’t stay in tune and the Red Sox rolled to a 17-6 victory before an announced crowd of 21,339 at Camden Yards.
The Red Sox broke open the game with an eight-run fourth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his second three-run homer of the night after Richie Martin’s fielding error opened the floodgates on a 97 degree night.
Utility player Stevie Wilkerson made his second pitching appearance, following up his 1-2-3 ninth against the Rays on July 12 with only a Sandy León solo home run allowed over two innings. The Orioles have used a position player to pitch five times this season and 14 since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.
With his pitches registering as curveballs below 60 mph, Wilkerson permitted Marco Hernández’s single in the eighth but also retired Bradley on a roller up the first base line, Brock Holt on a fly ball and Mookie Betts on a grounder to second.
Sam Travis grounded out leading off the ninth, but León cleared the center field fence with a pitch recorded as a 55 mph slider. J.D. Martinez flied out and Andrew Benintendi struck out.
Wilkerson threw 16 of 20 pitches for strikes. “Wilky Smooth” strikes again.
Dwight Smith Jr. doubled in the ninth after going hitless in 33 consecutive at-bats. So that also happened.
The home runs off Eshelman came on a 76 mph curveball, 86 mph fastball and 81 mph slider. The Red Sox feasted on the sampler platter.
Bradley followed Christian Vázquez’s RBI single in the second with a three-run shot into the Orioles’ bullpen for a 4-0 lead. Rafael Devers homered to lead off the third and Betts broke a 5-5 tie in the fourth by clearing the left field fence after Martin’s error.
Making his third major league start and first against a team other than the Rays, Eshelman lasted only 3 2/3 innings and was charged with five earned runs and nine total. He allowed six hits, walked three batters and struck out three, and his ERA swelled to 6.91.
Yacabonis let both inherited runners score on Martinez’s double. Benintendi walked and Vázquez delivered an RBI single. Bradley followed with his second home run on an 0-2 pitch, and the Red Sox led 13-5.
All eight runs came with two out and are unearned to the Orioles, but the four off Yacabonis are earned. It’s in the rules.
The fifth inning for Yacabonis unfolded a follows: Holt double, wild pitch, Betts RBI single, Devers RBI triple, Xander Bogaerts RBI single, Martinez single.
Tanner Scott stranded two runners, but Yacabonis already was charged with seven runs and eight hits with a walk and two wild pitches. Hyde praised Yacabonis last night for his 10-pitch scoreless innings.
Yacabonis is the first Orioles reliever to allow seven earned runs and retire only one batter since Rick Bauer on May 11, 2004, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Scott worked a career-high three innings and they were scoreless with only one hit allowed. His previous high was 2 2/3 in Game 2 of a Sept. 26, 2018 doubleheader in Boston.
The 17 runs allowed tonight are a season high for the Orioles. Opponents have scored 16 in three games.
The Orioles sent nine batters to the plate in the third and hit for the cycle against Rick Porcello while plating five runs. Martin doubled and scored on Trey Mancini’s double and Núñez hit a towering fly ball to left that kept carrying and landed in the first row - Statcast measuring the launch angle at a ridiculous 48 degrees.
Santander tripled with two outs and scored on the first of two Chris Davis singles - this one off the fence in left-center field - to tie the game.
Santander homered onto Eutaw Street in the fifth, the 103rd at Camden Yards and his second, to draw him within a double of his own cycle. He settled for a single in the seventh for his first career four-hit game and bounced out in the ninth.
The offense did its part. But the starting pitching couldn’t match John Means last night. Yacabonis couldn’t provide relief. Martin made a sensational leaping catch last night and sailed a throw tonight.
The Orioles wanted a carbon copy and didn’t get it.
Hyde on good and bad: “I was really happy with how we swung the bat. I thought we had a ton of great at-bats. We got that five-spot in the third inning to tie it up. Really nice rally. I thought we took good at-bats for the majority of the game. Obviously we had some guys with some big nights. Santander a double short of the cycle and four hits. I thought CD had some really good at-bats, hit the ball hard three times. Trey continues to swing the bat, Richie Martin two more hits. So I thought we did some good things offensively, we just didn’t pitch real well tonight.”
Hyde on Eshelman and Yacabonis: “That’s a good lineup. Tom, they fouled off a ton of pitches and hit some mistakes. He had a tough time navigating through their lineup. Yac looked, he just didn’t have the same stuff as last night when it was electric. We were hoping he could give us a little bit of length and it just didn’t happen. Just one of those really bad nights.
“Last night his stuff was great and tonight it just looked a little flat. It didn’t look the same. I don’t know if he was tired or what. But Tanner Scott picked us up big time with three great innings and Dr. Poo Poo (Wilkerson) came in and pitched the last two.”
Hyde on Santander: “Playing great. Really good swings, hits from both sides of the plate. Obviously he’s got some power, it’s a line drive swing and he uses the whole field. Another night out there in center field, did a nice job. Playing the game well and plays hard. Comes prepared. He’s a professional.”
Hyde on Martin error: “That was unlike him. That was just one of those plays that happens. It’s unfortunate. He’s been so great for us. We couldn’t stop the bleeding after the error. But you’ve got to be able to make pitches after. Mistakes do happen, but you’ve got to be able to make pitches after to pick guys up and help them out.”
Hyde on whether he was confident about getting two innings from Wilkerson: “Nope. I had no idea, but it helped us big time for tomorrow.”
Hyde on asking position player to pitch: “I’d rather not at all ever. But sometimes unfortunately it happens. First time I’ve ever done it two innings with a guy, but he pitched two innings with under 20 pitches. He proved last time he could throw strikes and he did it again tonight.”
Eshelman on facing Red Sox lineup: “They’re all veterans over there. You just kind of have to understand that they’ve been around the game a long time, they know what to do, they understand what I’m trying to do quickly and they made their adjustments as you could see after the first. Just something I learned the hard way. Got to learn from that and take it into my next one and understand what I did wrong and work to improve it.”
Eshelman on how Sox work counts and foul off pitches: “Like I said, they’re veterans over there and they understand what I was trying to do right from the get-go. They watched film, and just better location on everything on my side of things. Just kind of understand who they are and going forward understand who lineups are and being able to locate pitches better is the No. 1 goal for me.”
Eshelman on what it’s like to be part of a night like this: “It’s tough. You’ve got a guy in here who was a double shy of the cycle and for that to not be the headline is kind of tough for me. The offense did a phenomenal job tonight and for me to not get a quicker inning for them to keep going is kind of frustrating on my end of things. I’ve just got to kind of learn from what I’m doing and move forward and understand what I can do better.”
Santander (via translator Ramón Alarcón) on almost hitting for the cycle: “I felt good. Thankfully everything went well. At the end of the game I was just trying to put the ball in play, trying to help my team. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the cycle, but that’s just fine.”
Santander on whether he’s comfortable in center: “I think the key thing is the opportunity that I’m getting. The more opportunity, the more I work at it, and I think I’m improving because of that.”
Scott on Wilkerson pitching: “He’s got a good arm, throwing nice changeups, I guess. It’s tough when a position player has to pitch, but went out there and did his best. Kind of fun to watch in a way, but not really.”