Bullpen fails Red Sox after perfect chance to spoil Jackson Holliday’s debut

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox shot off to a 5-0 lead against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. But some speedy baserunning from Jarren Duran, a well-placed single by Connor Wong, and a Green Monsterhomer from Triston Casas weren't enough to seal Boston's victory.

After Casas' fifth-inning bomb, Baltimore made its way back into the race, with some help from the Red Sox.

Isaiah Campbell entered the game in the sixth frame in relief of Kutter Crawford, who kept the O's off the board all night. Campbell gave up three straight singles — the third of which coming from Colton Cowser, and he scored Ryan Mountcastle and Cedric Mullins in the process. Jordan Westburg, who would be the Sox's killer later, followed them with a double. Jackson Holliday, baseball's No. 1 prospect, grounded out to score Cowser in his MLB debut.

A frame later, Chris Martin took the mound to begin a strange inning for Boston. Martin collected a quick fly out, then Ryan O'Hearn singled and the frustration began. O'Hearn advanced to second on a passed ball by Wong and Martin let up a rare walk on a wild pitch. Mullins took a swing and made contact with Wong's glove, so he collected a free bag on catcher's interference with just one out in the inning.

Red Sox bullpen showed first signs of weakness against the Orioles

During Cowser's at-bat, O'Hearn scored on another wild pitch by Martin and all the runners on base advanced. He managed to strike out Cowser, but then gave up a three-run homer to the very next batter, Westburg. And, for the second consecutive time, the Red Sox buried themselves.

Westburg had a stellar night, which also included two improbable catches right up against the Green Monster — he killed the Red Sox at the plate and in the field, propelling his squad to a 7-5 victory.

The Red Sox also had their fair share of bright spots. Crawford pitched well — he tossed five scoreless innings, allowed two hits and four walks and struck out six Orioles. Brennan Bernardino made his 2024 Red Sox debut after Martin got roughed up. Gunnar Henderson legged out a triple against him, but Bernardino sat down the next six batters he faced over two innings to get even.

On a drizzly night at Fenway Park, Boston's bullpen showed its first signs of mortality. The extent of their first-week dominance was unsustainable and they were bound to make a mistake at some point. Not even a hot offensive showing could keep the Red Sox ahead of the Orioles once the bullpen lost grip — literally and figuratively.

See, we weren't crazy to expose potential red flags with this team after the first couple weeks of play.

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