Red Sox 2 – Orioles 4: A four run fourth inning buries them
Steven Wright struggled for the second time in three starts and the Boston Red Sox offense couldn’t solve the Orioles pitching.
To say that things haven’t gone according to plan for Steven Wright this season would be a gross understatement. He entered today’s start with an 8.36 ERA over 14 innings with just nine strikeouts and left today’s start with an 8.66 ERA over 17.2 innings with just nine strikeouts. Wright allowed four earned runs on two homers – the sixth and seventh that he’s allowed this year. For the second time in three games, he failed to make it out of the fourth inning – a feat he was able to accomplish in all 24 of his starts last season.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with him, there’s a certain level of unpredictability that comes with knuckleballers which could explain some of his struggles, but there’s also an important date that stands out. On August 7, 2016, Wright was called into a game to pinch-run against the LA Dodgers and suffered a freak injury to his shoulder when diving back to second base. The injury resulted in a stint on the 15-day disabled list and he simply hasn’t been the same since.
Before the injury, Wright had earned a spot on the All-Star team, made 22 starts, posted a 3.01 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .227 batting average. Since hitting the DL, he’s made six starts between 2016-2017, posting an 8.45 ERA and has been the victim of a .392 batting average against.
To put it lightly, Steven Wright has not been a good pitcher since the shoulder injury.
Jackie Bradley hits a mammoth homer onto Eutaw Street
This was the only bright spot for the Red Sox in an otherwise miserable game. The lineup was held to just six hits for the second night in a row and went 1-for-7 with RISP. A number of players are slumping and are visibly frustrated at the plate. However, JBJ is 3-for-8 since coming off the DL including this two-run bomb in the third inning.
With his first home run of the season, Bradley became the fifth player in Red Sox history to homer onto Eutaw Street. The list includes Mo Vaughn, Troy O’Leary, Carl Everett, David Ortiz (2x) and now Jackie Bradley Jr. It doesn’t mean anything in the stat books, but it’s a cool feat nonetheless.
Heath Hembree pitches 3.1 innings in relief
With Wright struggling to miss bats and keep the ball in the yard, this one quickly shaped up to be another stressful game for the bullpen. The Red Sox have already gotten at least eight innings out of four members of their bullpen, including Hembree, who pitched 3.1 scoreless innings tonight. All the credit in the world to him, though, he pitched his heart out and saved the Sox from burning through their bullpen for the second straight game.
After inheriting two runners in the fourth, he struck out Manny Machado to escape the jam and cruised from that point on. He would give the team three more scoreless innings, four strikeouts, and allow just two runners to reach base. Among bullpen pitchers with at least five innings, Hembree now leads the team with an ERA of 1.59 and is third with a K/9 of 10.32.
- Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball off his left foot in the fifth inning and seemed to be hurt before staying in the game. He went 0-for-4 on the day and is now in the midst of a 3-for-25 stretch.
- Mookie Betts also went 0-for-4 and popped out three times. After hitting .514/.609/1.162 at Camden last season, he’s for 0-for-8 in the ballpark this year.
- If Wright continues to struggle, the club’s starting depth options are limited to Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, and Kyle Kendrick. This situation is far from ideal.
Next: Breaking down the slide that took out Dustin Pedroia
The Red Sox will look to salvage the final game of the three-game series against the O’s tomorrow at 1:35.