Going into the week of May 29 the Orioles were facing two crucial and extremely taxing series’ against AL East opponents. They had lost seven games in a row and were looking lost in every facet of the game.
Had you told O’s fans that the Birds would go 4-3 this week, many would have called you crazy but taken that hypothetical scenario in a heartbeat. That outcome became a reality after the Orioles took care of business against the Yankees and kept rolling into the first two games of the Red Sox series. Two disappointing loses capped off the week but the O’s still walked away with a solid rebound week.
In game one the Orioles offense picked up where it left off from the Yankees series. Four home runs from four different players pushed the Birds past the Red Sox 7-5. Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop launched multi-run homers while Adam Jones and Chris Davis added solo shots.
Wade Miley took the mound and pitched seven innings of work, giving up just one run. With a 7-1 lead going into the eighth inning, Buck Showalter opted to bring Mike Wright into the game instead of the usual late inning relievers. Wright worked his way through the eighth with ease, prompting Showalter to keep him in for the ninth as well. Wright surrendered a few hits and one run before being replaced by Donnie Hart with just one out to go.
Hart put some unnecessary nerves in the hearts of O’s fans when he gave up a three run homer to Jackie Bradley Jr., but he followed by getting Pablo Sandoval to ground into the final out of the game.
Game two was much closer from start to finish. A leadoff home run from Seth Smith was followed by a monster homer from Manny Machado. The third baseman tore into a pitch from Rick Porcello and hit the second deck in left field, approximately 465 feet away from home plate.
Alec Asher turned in a great bounce back outing after struggling against the Astros last week. Through 6.1 innings Asher gave up two runs on three hits but notched five strikeouts as well. Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day, and Brad Brach combined to close out the final innings and hold the 3-2 lead for the win.
Saturday nights game marked the Orioles first time facing David Price in a Red Sox uniform. Considering Price has gone 12-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 25 starts against the O’s, many were expecting less offensive production than the first two games. Those predictions proved to be true as Price stifled the Orioles for seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits.
Dylan Bundy didn’t quite go as deep as some might have hoped but he was able to keep the Red Sox lineup at bay for a potential comeback. When he exited the game, the Orioles were down 2-0.
Manny Machado cut the deficit to one with a solo home run in the seventh inning. The homer marked Machado’s 12th of the year and sixth against the Red Sox. Going into the eighth Buck Showalter opted to send Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound. The move was confusing and went about as well as you would expect. Jimenez gave up two runs before finally finishing the inning.
Donnie Hart pitched the ninth and gave up a run of his own, pushing the deficit to four runs. The O’s managed to get one run off of closer, Craig Kimbrel but would ultimately fall to Boston 5-2.
Had this been a three game series, the O’s would have walked away with another series win against a division opponent. However, there was still one game to play and the Red Sox had a chance to split the series. It didn’t help that Boston would be sending Chris Sale to the mound while the O’s prayed that Chris Tillman would rebound from his last two abysmal starts.
In unexpected fashion, Chris Sale struggled through the first inning. The Orioles lineup did a good job of getting Sale’s pitch count up to just under 40 while scoring three runs. Although, the bad inning couldn’t be fully attributed to Sale. Sandoval made two key mistakes that allowed the inning to be extended.
Chris Tillman didn’t look much better in the early innings. The Orioles starter gave up three runs of his own through the first two innings but quickly settled in to retire the next nine batters in order. Tillman ran into trouble once again int he sixth. With the bases loaded Francisco Pena had an opportunity to catch Bradley Jr. slipping but threw it away instead. Two runs scored and the Red Sox took a 5-3 lead. They would hold this lead and go onto win 7-3.
The Orioles are off tomorrow as they prepare to host the Pirates in a two game series on Tuesday and Wednesday. Another off day was originally scheduled for Thursday but that day will be used to make up the rained out game against the Nationals from last month.