If it really does start with starting pitching, as baseball folks preach, the Orioles really are having a rotten weekend in Boston.
Spenser Watkins allowed six runs last night in four innings, the sweat making it harder to find his grip on the ball. Manager Brandon Hyde revealed earlier today that left-hander Bruce Zimmermann must remain on the injured list after spraining his ankle in a training mishap, which prohibits the rookie from joining the rotation on Sunday.
Jorge López loaded the bases today with no outs in the first inning, threw a wild pitch and surrendered a homer to Rafael Devers. The Red Sox had four runs, four hits and a hit batter before López recorded an out.
The Orioles had a losing streak that was gaining momentum toward a 10th consecutive game.
Chris Sale, making his first start since August 2019, struck out eight batters and walked none in five innings, López was charged with seven runs in 3 1/3 and the Red Sox defeated the Orioles 16-2 to ensure a series win at Fenway Park.
The 16 runs are a season high against the Orioles, who have multiple losing streaks of 10 or more games for the third time in club history, including the 1954 and 2002 seasons. It’s happened twice to the Diamondbacks this summer. The 2006 Royals were the last American League team.
Austin Hays and Trey Mancini hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the third inning, but Adam Plutko served up two homers in the fifth to raise his season total to 17 in 38 games and the Orioles tumbled to 38-77 overall and 11-33 in day games.
Keegan Akin, who appeared in danger of leaving the rotation, will try to be the stopper on Sunday.
Catcher Austin Wynns made his pitching debut in the eighth and retired three of four batters. Hunter Renfroe homered with one out. Hays made a diving catch in right field.
López allowed nine hits., walked two batters, hit two and threw two wild pitches. He left a bases-loaded, one-out mess for Paul Fry, who let an inherited runner score before getting a double play. López was removed at 81 pitches.
“The first inning felt really good, I just got unlucky,” López said. “They got a couple hard hits, but I kept attacking guys. It was really hard to get a strikeout today with those guys and they battled.”
Hyde said he was “very concerned” as he watched López labor in the first inning.
“I didn’t know how we were going to piece that one together today,” he said.
Plutko, who’s out of minor league options, has surrendered home runs in six consecutive games to break Mark Williamson’s club relief record of five in 1990. He was charged with seven runs and five hits in two-thirds of an inning to raise his ERA to 6.71 and give the Red Sox a 14-2 lead.
The first inning could have been a lot worse for López. J.D. Martinez doubled after the Devers home run, which came on a full-count curveball, and was thrown out by Jorge Mateo trying to advance on Renfroe’s grounder. Jarren Duran reached on a force play and Wynns threw him out trying to steal - making Wynns 9-for-16 this season.
López began by allowing back-to-back singles to Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo and nailing Xander Bogaerts on the hand. He sailed a pitch to the backstop, but it bounced back to Wynns, preventing the runners from advancing. Another pitch skipped past Wynns to score Hernández and Devers stepped to the plate.
Devers has six home runs and 18 RBIs against the Orioles this season in 11 games, including his bases-loaded single off Fry in the fourth.
Bobby Dalbec grounded into a double play in the second after Christian Vázquez’s leadoff walk, but López surrendered two more runs. Hernández doubled, Verdugo had an RBI single and raced home on Bogaerts’ double, López threw another wild pitch, Devers walked, Plutko warmed in the bullpen and Hyde wondered if he could get through eight innings without using a position player on the mound.
Relief actually came to Hyde with López working into the fourth inning, much longer than seemed possible during the first. He retired the side in order in the third, but drilled Hernández on the hand with one out in the fourth - and felt so bad about it that he rushed to the plate, put an arm around Hernández and apologized.
Verdugo and Bogaerts singled to load the bases and Fry entered a game in the fourth inning for the third time in his career, the others Sept. 15, 2020 and July 6, 2018 in his third major league game.
Sale didn’t allow a hit until Hays homered in the third on a high fly ball to left field. Mancini followed with his 20th, a 405-foot shot to center field for his first homer of the month and first RBI since July 28.
Mancini was 6-for-41 prior to the at-bat, but also 11-for-27 against Sale after the homer.
Richie Martin reached on an infield hit leading off the fifth, slid into third base on Wynns’ single and was tagged out when his foot came off the bag.
That kind of day for the Orioles.
Plutko entered in the fifth, immediately walked Renfroe and gave up a 405-foot triple to Duran. Dalbac homered with one out for a 10-2 lead.
Verdugo collected his fourth hit later in the inning and Bogaerts had an RBI single. At that point in the game, the first four batters in the Red Sox’s lineup were 11-for-11 with seven RBIs and eight runs scored. Devers struck out and Martinez launched a three-run homer to send Plutko to the bench.
According to STATS, Plutko tied the longest streak in the modern era allowing a home run while going two innings or fewer, joining Pete Smith (1995-97) and Kirby Yates (2015).
The 14 runs tied the most allowed by the Orioles this season - also April 11 against the Red Sox and June 9 against the Mets. Dalbec homered off César Valdez in the sixth, Statcast measuring it at 445 feet, to set the new high. Renfroe piled on later.
“Getting down early quite a bit is hard. We need to get a good start to kind of get things rolling,” Hyde said.
“I’m not complaining about the lack of effort. I think our execution isn’t real good on the mound right now from some guys and I think our at-bats can get a little bit out of control. We’re missing (Ryan) Mountcastle, that’s big for us right now for a middle-of-the-order bat, but a lot of teams are missing people.”
Hyde couldn’t even use the lopsided score to rest more regulars. He had a short bench that included infielder Ramón Urías, who is day-to-day with soreness in his right upper leg/groin, and Cedric Mullins, who was out of the lineup to get some rest.
Urías did contribute today. Wynns used his glove in the eighth.
Pedro Severino singled twice for his third multi-hit game in his last five starts.
The Orioles probably will need to make some roster moves to freshen the bullpen and bring in a long relief option, unsure what they’ll get from Akin. Positive that it does, indeed, start with starting pitching.
“We’ve just got to cancel that game and jump to the next one,” López said.
“We really have no choice,” Hyde said, “except to come out and play hard and do our best to try to stay in games and try to compete and try to win as many games as we can. That’s been the mindset here. We haven’t pitched very well of late. We’re not scoring a ton of runs, either.
“We’ve just got to get better in all areas. We’re a long ways away.”
The Rookie-level Florida Complex League game between the orange and black teams was postponed due to rain. It happens.