Cedric Mullins got his usual business out of the way early tonight, which is so often how it happens. Richie Martin maintained his power surge at Fenway Park, though with a pronounced gap in between home runs.
The Orioles had a couple of positive moments in their return to the site of their season-opening sweep, but the slumping Red Sox kept topping them. Kept extending at-bats and innings against rookie starter Spenser Watkins. Kept flexing their muscle after the bullpen came into play.
And a losing streak grew.
The Orioles have dropped their last nine games and are 38-76.
Dusten Knight replaced Watkins, who also allowed seven hits, walked three batters and threw 87 pitches, only 44 for strikes. In his last four starts, he’s surrendered 18 earned runs (19 total) and 27 hits in 19 2/3 innings.
“I just thought tonight he was behind in the count almost the entire outing,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “It’s tough to pitch behind in the count with this lineup. He just wasn’t throwing enough strikes. Pretty good hitters over here. You can’t be in hitter’s counts all night long. Had a tough time getting ahead of hitters.”
Martin hit a 320-foot home run leading off the top of the third, wrapping the ball inside the Pesky Pole in right field. His last homer was Sept. 28, 2019 in Boston, followed by his absence in 2020 due to a fractured right wrist.
Mullins ran the count full in the first inning and lined a single into right field to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest for the Orioles since Adam Jones in May 2012. There have been 16 streaks in club history of 20-plus games.
Mullins has 41 hits in the first inning to lead the majors. He’s batting .402 in the inning.
The Orioles were 0-for-23 with runners in scoring position during the Tigers’ three-game sweep. They followed Mullins’ single tonight with a strikeout, ground ball, walk and popup. Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta’s errant pickoff throw moved Mullins to second base with no outs.
Trey Mancini began the night in a 6-for-36 slump and with no RBIs since July 28, but he was slashing 348/.414/.583 lifetime in 30 games at Fenway Park. He grounded out in the first, in between Anthony Santander’s strikeout and DJ Stewart’s walk.
Mancini went 0-for-4. Austin Hays’ hitting streak ended at 10 games.
Pivetta held the Orioles to one run and three hits with eight strikeouts in six innings. He’s 6-0 with a 2.95 ERA lifetime against them.
“I think it was a combination of Pivetta and a lot of chases out of the zone,” Hyde said. “He’s got a good fastball and a good curve, but we really helped him out with chasing the heater up.
“Not a great team approach tonight against Pivetta.”
The Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the second, with Kyle Schwarber drawing a walk in his first plate appearance since the trade with the Nationals. Jarren Duran singled up the middle for the Red Sox’s third hit of the inning and a 1-0 lead.
Bobby Dalbec drove in two runs with a double off the Green Monster and Kiké Hernández lined out to left field for a hard sacrifice fly and 4-0 lead.
Watkins retired the first two batters in the third, but Boston scored again on another Schwarber walk, a Plawecki walk and Duran’s double on a hanging curveball. He retired the first two batters in the fourth and Xander Bogaerts lifted a high fly ball to left field that reached the first row above the wall for a 6-1 lead.
Asked about the challenges presented by the Red Sox’s lineup, Watkins replied, “I wouldn’t even say it was the lineup. I thought it was more so just kind of battling myself. I was batting sweating and trying to find a grip on the ball, and I need to do a better job of just overcoming and executing. The lineup is one through nine, just like any other lineup, so for me it’s just sticking to my guns and continuing to attack and not allowing something like sweat or things like that to creep in and get me off my focus.”
The venue wasn’t an issue, either, Watkins said.
“Same as every other place,” he said. “Of course, Fenway is Fenway. Any baseball player can go onto that field and be a little bit wide-eyed, but I felt like it was more so me just staying focused mentally. Was there crowd noise? Absolutely, but there’s crowd noise everywhere. I think it’s just a matter of me staying focused mentally.”
Dalbec hit a solo homer in the sixth after Knight retired the first four batters he faced. Hunter Renfroe greeted César Valdez with a home run in the seventh, a changeup hovering over the plate.
The Red Sox, who lost 11 of their previous 14 games, wouldn’t be threatened.
“Anytime you run into a little bit of a skid it’s tough, but we have a good group of guys, a good core of veterans who keep the emotions in check and keep the guys on the right path, always looking forward,” Watkins said. “You can’t change what’s happened, you can’t change the losses. So, we have a good group of guys who are pushing us to stay forward, as well as our staff. It is what it is. It sucks, of course, but we’ve got the right group to continue moving forward.”
Note: Triple-A Norfolk catcher Adley Rutschman had a run-scoring single tonight, making him 4-for-4 with five RBIs with runners in scoring position since joining the Tides. Rylan Bannon continued his home run binge with his eighth and ninth of the season. He has five in the last three games.