After their game back on Patriots Day was postponed due to rain, the Red Sox welcomed the Baltimore Orioles into town for a make-up of that game followed by a previously scheduled three-game weekend series. Entering last night at 13-29, the Orioles have been one of the worst teams in the American League up to this point in the season, and they showed why on Thursday.
Coming off a so-so start last time out in Toronto, David Price made his ninth start of the season in this one, and he had himself quite the night. The lefty ended up going a full nine innings for his third complete game in a Red Sox uniform. Over that stretch, Price held the Orioles to just two runs on five hits while fanning nine, a new season high, and gave up zero walks on the night. What was even more impressive out of this outing for Price, in my mind, was his pitch count. The Tennessee native needed just 95 pitches to get through all nine innings. A good reason behind that is the fact that 73% of those 95 pitches went for strikes, and Price found himself in a grand total of two three-ball counts all night.
He was moving right along on Thursday, and he really only made one costly mistake, which came off the bat of Manny Machado in the ninth. The Orioles shortstop took Price deep to left field with two outs in the inning for his league-leading 14th home run of the season. That ended the shutout and got the Red Sox bullpen going a little bit, but Price ended his night on a positive note two pitches later, as he got Jonathan Schoop to pop out for the third and final out of the game.
Since it came against the lowly Baltimore Orioles, I’m sure Price’s doubters will still be persistent, but it’s hard not to be impressed with what he did last night. Right from the get go, the 32-year-old seemed to be in control of this one, and it probably helped that he had a lead to work with from the second inning on. Without a doubt his best start of the season, Price picked up his fourth win in the process while lowering his ERA from 4.89 to 4.38.
To put what Price did on Thursday night in perspective, think about this: Prior to his start tonight, Price has made two starts this month. In those two starts, he has pitched a TOTAL of nine innings while surrendering nine earned runs. Just last night, Price pitched nine innings and only gave up two earned runs. That’s a sure sign of improvement, and he’ll look to build on this success next time out against the Tampa Bay Rays sometime next week in their upcoming series against them.
On the other side of things, the 4-5 hitters in the Red Sox lineup came through big for the second night in a row. That’s right, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts went yard AGAIN on Thursday, and they were both pretty impressive home runs.
Facing off against O’s righty Kevin Gausman, Mookie Betts led the bottom half of the first off with a single, his first of three hits on the night. Three batters and two outs later, JD Martinez launched his second home run in as many nights to put his team up by two early.
That 431 foot shot to dead center field marked the 13th of the season for Martinez, as he now pulls even with Mookie Betts for the team lead in long balls.
Fast forward to the fifth, Andrew Benintendi kicked a four-run inning off by driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. from third on a sacrifice fly to right field. Three batters later, with Hanley Ramirez at second and Mookie Betts at third, Xander Bogaerts mashed a three-run homer to left field, very similar to the one he hit on Wednesday.
His sixth home run of the season, which was sent 383 feet over the Green Monster, was good for three and gave the Red Sox their sixth and final run of the night. Before Bogaerts even had the chance to touch home on his blast, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was already making his way to the mound to take Gausman out of the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that before.
Speaking of things I have never seen before, the Red Sox stole five bases off of Gausman last night, and all of them were uncontested. For some reason, the Orioles starter didn’t seem too interested in holding runners on once they reached first base, and the Red Sox took advantage of that. Mookie Betts even came away with three swiped bags on the night, a season high for him.
Another note from this one:
JD Martinez had to leave this game in the seventh inning because of a stomach illness. Shouldn’t be anything too serious. His replacement, Blake Swihart, grounded out in his only at bat of the game.
So, the Red Sox have technically sweeped the Orioles in that four-game series back in April. Next up is another series against Baltimore, and it will be Alex Cobb v. Drew Pomeranz on Friday. For Pomeranz, his last start against the Blue Jays in Toronto was a rough one and I’m sure he doesn’t want a repeat of that. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.