Red Sox give Orioles their first loss, 4-2
The Red Sox were able to get a well deserved victory over the Orioles Wednesday night to give Baltimore their first loss of the season.
The Red Sox came into Wednesday night’s game looking to end a three game skid against a red hot, undefeated Baltimore Orioles team. Boston was also looking to get a quality start from Joe Kelly and to try to alleviate some of the pressure on the bullpen that has been the trend in the early part of the season. Kelly did give them a solid start, but he was only able to get through five innings forcing the Sox relief squad to show off their stuff…and that they did!
Kelly was able to get through the first inning without much of an issue, although he did walk the leadoff man in CF Joey Rickard which led to a collective “Here we go again!” from Red Sox Nation. SS J.J. Hardy led off the second inning with an easy double, but tried to stretch it to a triple and was thrown out on a great heads up play by the cut-off man in Dustin Pedroia. Kelly would then give up two walks and an infield single before working his way out of a jam to end the inning with the game remaining scoreless.
Finally, in the third inning, the Orioles were able to get to Kelly. 3B Manny Machado led off with a double, and then the always dangerous Chris Davis blasted a two-run shot to left field. That would be the extent of the damage that Kelly would allow though. He battled his way through the third, fourth and fifth innings walking a few guys here and there and giving up an infield hit or two, but he was able to grind it out. There was no way he was getting beyond the fifth, and he knew that as his pitch count rose above 100. That’s what was so great about his strike out of Caleb Joseph to end the inning with two men on base (he also struck out Mark Trumbo to kick off the fifth). Kelly’s line to finish the game: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 SO on 116 pitches.
The Red Sox offense was decent once again in the final game of the series. They didn’t light up the scoreboard, but the Sox were able to work the count all night and get some big hits when they needed them. Their smart base-running was also a huge factor in this game. Mookie Betts led off the game with a single off of Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez followed by a stolen base. Pedroia worked a walk as Boston looked to get off to a quick start, but that was halted by a Xander Bogaerts ground that led to a rare double play with the runners going to third and second being called out. Bogaerts then took advantage of Jimenez not paying attention and stole second before stealing third shortly after. Hanley Ramirez couldn’t manage to drive him and grounded out. Still, the framework for how Boston was approaching this game was laid out.
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Betts and Pedroia started the third inning with a single each. They would both cross the plate after a Bogaerts double. This was big for the team and their starting pitcher because they immediately matched the two runs that the Orioles had managed off of Davis’ HR. The Sox would come back in the fourth inning to put some more hurt on Jimenez. Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit an elusive triple to deep right to drive in Brock Holt, and Bradley would be driven by Mookie on a ground out.
That would be just about it for the Sox on the offensive front as they only managed two more hits for the rest of the game (Travis Shaw and Bogaerts both singled in the sixth and seventh respectively), but that would be all that was needed.
Boston’s bullpen has been on fire in the first couple weeks of the 2016 season, and tonight was more of the same. They displayed precisely what Dave Dombrowski and the Sox brass had in mind as they constructed this team in the offseason. Matt Barnes, Tommy Layne, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel all combined for four scoreless innings. The big guns in Tazawa, Koji and Kimbrel worked the seventh, eighth and ninth innings and looked pretty close to dominant. Kimbrel in particular was throwing a consistent 98 mph fastball combined with a nasty 88 mph slider that was falling off the table to just baffle the Orioles in the ninth to get his second save of the season.
It was nice to see Kimbrel wash the bad taste out of his mouth from the home opener in which he gave up the monster game-winning homerun to Davis. This was a full team victory that the Red Sox earned on Wednesday night by a final score of 4-2 to give Baltimore their first loss of the season.
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After the off day on Thursday, they’ll look to win another series against the Toronto Blue Jays (4-4) with the first game scheduled for a 7:05 start on Friday. Rick Porcello (1-0, 6.00) will look to build off his victory in his first start of the year against the veteran R.A. Dickey (1-1, 8.10).
*A few hours before the start of the game, the Red Sox announced that Pablo Sandoval would be heading to the 15-day DL due to a left shoulder strain. Apparently, Sandoval went to John Farrell complaining that he “couldn’t even move his arm” according to WEEI’s John Tomase. Josh Rutledge has been called up to replace him on the roster.
*Wednesday night’s game marked the first one of the season that Hanley Ramirez failed to reach base going 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. He is now hitting .333 on the season.
*Ryan Hanigan got the call to go behind the plate and looked great calling a solid game and making some key defensive plays. He was 1-3 at the plate.
*The Sox left six men on base and went 1-5 with runners in scoring position.
*According to NESN, the Red Sox now lead the AL with 44 runs scored.
It wasn’t an easy start for Joe Kelly, but he looked sharper than his first go-around last week and earned a tough-fought victory. He looked to be more at ease with runners on base and wasn’t over-throwing his fastball against the Orioles. He utilized the breaking ball when he needed to. Kelly will need to improve even more in his next outing with Boston seriously needing their starters to go beyond five or six innings at some point. His pitch count has to come down — Kelly found himself pitching to eight different batters on a full count and threw ten 3-ball counts in all. That can’t happen every start.
Bogaerts had a nice night for himself going 2-4 with the huge double that scored two runs in the third to tie the game. He also play well defensively and stole two bases.
All of the relief pitchers were clutch Wednesday night with Tazawa, Uehara and Kimbrel slamming the door shut on Baltimore.