The Red Sox lost to the Orioles 8-3 on Sunday afternoon, leaving them in a position to lose their first series of the year on Monday.
Top Play (WPA): The Red Sox fell behind 2-0 early thanks to a two-run home run by Adam Jones in the top of the first inning, but took the lead on one swing in the bottom half as Hanley Ramirez launched a first-pitch fastball from Miguel Gonzalez over the left-field wall for a three-run homer (+.247) that gave the Sox their only lead of the game. Brock Holt led off the game with a single to center and David Ortiz drew a one-out walk to position Ramirez for the blast.
Bottom Play (WPA): The Orioles had a perfect chance to break a 3-3 tie with a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the fourth inning. Everth Cabrera allowed the Sox to get out of the jam unscathed as he grounded a 1-0 slider back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play (-.178) to end the inning. It was the first of three straight innings in which Baltimore would load the bases against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.
Key Moment: Pablo Sandoval was on the wrong side of Sunday’s key moment as his misread of a ground ball to third helped the Orioles break the game wide open. The Sox were trailing 5-3 with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the sixth inning when Cabrera dropped a slow roller down the third-base line that appeared to be heading toward foul territory. Sandoval, however, picked up the ball while it was still fair, putting two on with no outs. Jimmy Paredes loaded the bases with a single to center and Jones ripped a bases-clearing double to extend Baltimore’s lead to 8-3.
Sandoval’s tenure with the Red Sox has been underwhelming thus far, as he had posted a .286/.375/.286 line with no extra-base hits and a pair of fielding errors in 11 games prior to yesterday. On Sunday, he helped position the O’s to take a commanding lead and chase Porcello from the game two batters later with some poor judgment.
Trend to Watch: Porcello came into Sunday’s game averaging 0.94 home runs per nine innings for his career. After giving up homers to Jones and Ryan Flaherty in the first and third inning, Porcello had already allowed five home runs through his first 16 innings with the Red Sox. This is the second straight game in which the righty has given up a pair of home runs after allowing two against the Nationals last Monday (It may have been worse had Mookie Betts not robbed Bryce Harper of a potential home run in right-center in the first.)
Porcello’s troubles – at least on Sunday – were a product of bad pitch location, which was evident throughout his five-plus-inning outing in which he gave up eight runs on 12 hits, throwing just 58 of his 102 pitches for strikes. According to PITCHf/x, Porcello didn’t draw any whiffs on 15 swings on his slider, which Flaherty drove for a solo home run in the second inning. Porcello threw only eight of his 18 curveballs for strikes.
Coming Next: The Sox will try to salvage a split with the Orioles when the teams finish their four-game set with an 11:05 a.m. Patriots’ Day matchup. Justin Masterson and Wei-Yin Chen are the expected starters as both right-handers are coming off no-decisions last week. Masterson in particular is looking for a bounce-back performance after giving up seven runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings against the Nationals on Tuesday. Monday’s game will end a brutal stretch of quick turnarounds and inconsistent start times for the Red Sox early in the season, as they follow up this series with three straight 7:10 p.m. games in Tampa Bay.
Photo by Kelly O’Connor, sittingstill.smugmug.com