For the first time since May 31st, Drew Pomeranz started a big league game last night, and surprise, surprise, he was not very good. Yes, he deserves the benefit of the doubt and maybe multiple chances to prove himself again, but it’s understandable why Pomeranz is not exactly a fan favorite.
I mean, he has brought almost nothing to the table this season and looks like he does not want to be out there. But, given the fact Eduardo Rodriguez is on the shelf for the forseeable future, nothing much will change. The good news here, if any, is that once the postseason begins, Pomeranz shouldn’t even be considered to be part of the starting rotation. Watch, now he’ll pitch like he did for most of last season and I’ll look like an idiot.
Anyway, on another rainy night in Baltimore, Drew Pomeranz made his return from the 10-day disabled list to make his ninth start of the season on Tuesday night. While rehabbing from his left bicep injury, Pomeranz made six starts between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. In those six outings, the lefty posted a 5.04 ERA in 25 innings pitched, but held the opposition to one run on one hit and two walks in his last start against the Charlotte Knights on July 18th.
So, that appeared to give the signal that Pomeranz was ready to rejoin the Red Sox rotation. Alex Cora mentioned how the return of Pomeranz could be somewhat like a trade pickup for the club, and he had a great opportunity to get his feet wet against a team as bad as the Orioles.
Unfortunately, that is not how things worked out, because in less than five innings, Pomeranz got hit decently hard.
In those 4.2 innings pitched, Baltimore got to the Tennessee native for four runs on six hits, including two home runs, while drawing two walks and fanning four times.
The first crucial mistake Pomeranz made came in the third, when with one out and a runner on, the lefty seemingly missed his location on a 0-0 78 MPH knuckle curve and O’s second baseman Jonathan Schoop sent it 414 feet into the left field seats for his second long ball in as many days to give his team an early 2-1 lead.
The second crucial mistake for Pomeranz came in a similar spot later on in the bottom half of the fifth. After walking the leadoff hitter, who also happened to be Baltimore’s number nine hitter in Caleb Joseph, the 29 year-old hurler served up another two-run homer, this one coming off the bat of the other Orioles middle infielder Tim Beckham. This coming a half inning after the Red Sox had just battled back to take a 3-2 lead. Not a great look.
Pomeranz would be unable to finish the frame, as Tyler Thornburg came in and struck out the only batter he faced.
Finishing with 89 pitches, 56 of which went for strikes, Pomeranz relied on his knuckle-curveball 51% of the time on Tuesday and topped out at 89.9 MPH with his four-seamer on his 26th pitch of the game. According to Statcast, the three hardest hit balls last night had exit velocities of 108, 107.7, and 106.9 MPH. They all came off of Pomeranz.
Falling to 1-4 on the season with an ugly 6.91 ERA, Pomeranz will look to rebound in his next time out, which could come against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
As I had previously mentioned, Tyler Thornburg got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth and retired the lone batter he faced.
A struggling Joe Kelly was next out of the ‘pen for the sixth, and by the time the inning had concluded, the Orioles had added three runs to their lead to essentially put this game out of reach for the Red Sox. Since the beginning of June, Kelly owns a 9.98 ERA and .920 OPS against in 20 appearances. That’s a problem.
From the middle of the seventh inning on, Hector Velazquez wrapped up a pretty miserable day for Red Sox pitching on a more positive note, as he held the Orioles scoreless in the two frames he tossed to lower his ERA to a solid 2.50 on the season.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher for Baltimore who actually made his big league debut against Boston back on June 13th.
Yefry Ramirez, 24, gave up three runs in less than five innings pitched then, and it was a very similar outing for him last night.
JD Martinez got the scoring started right away in the first, as he launched his first of two home runs on the night to put the Red Sox up early.
Fast forward to the fifth with the team trailing by a run, Blake Swihart came through with is first Major League home run in nearly three seasons to tie this thing back up at two runs a piece.
One batter later, Mookie Betts took issue with Ramirez throwing 92 MPH heat up near his head. Although it was more than likely unintentional, Betts made the Orioles rookie pay by mashing his 24th big fly of the season on the very next pitch he saw.
Back-to-back solo homers to retake the lead had me feeling pretty confident to be honest, but Drew Pomeranz let that slip away a few minutes later.
Trailing by four runs heading into the eighth inning, JD Martinez put a dent into that deficit, as he blasted his second home run of the night and 31st of the season, a two-run shot, to retake the Major League lead in that category and make it a 7-5 game.
With one last chance to do something in the ninth, the news that Orioles closer Zach Britton had been traded to the New York Yankees was certainly a blow, but it was also assuring knowing that he would not be available to close this game out for Baltimore.
Facing off against new Orioles closer Brad Brach, Jackie Bradley Jr. led things off with an infield single that essentially turned into a double thanks to some sloppy glove work from Tim Beckham.
After Brock Holt pinch hit for Eduardo Nunez and advanced Bradley from third with one out, Rafael Devers cut the Red Sox deficit to one by collecting his 50th RBI of the season on an infield single. 7-6 game.
Mookie Betts was up next with the chance to complete the comeback, but unexpectedly grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. Surprising, considering how much damage Betts has done at Camden Yards in his career. With the Yankees winning their game against the Tampa Bay Rays last night, the lead in the AL East currently stands at five games for Boston.
Some notes from this win:
From @SoxNotes: J.D. Martinez is the 10th player to hit 30+ HR in his first season with the Red Sox, the first since David Ortiz did it in 2003.
In 35 career games at Camden Yards, Mookie Betts is slashing .296/.383/.606 with 13 HR and 28 RBI.
Per FanGraphs, 48% of the 31 home runs JD Martinez has hit this season have been hit to the opposite field.
Going for the series win tonight before heading home, David Price gets the ball for the Red Sox in what will be his 21st start of the season. Going up against him is the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, who has started three times against Boston in 2018 and owns a 2.29 ERA in those starts.
First pitch of the final game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.