After managing just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak increase to three on Saturday, as they fell to the O’s by a final score of 9-4 to guarantee at best a series loss at Fenway Park to cap off the 2019 season.
Making his fifth and final start of the season for Boston was Jhoulys Chacin, who came into the weekend having given up four runs in back-to-back outings.
Working into the third inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered another four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.
The first pair of those Baltimore tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with no outs and Jonathan Villar at second following a leadoff double, D.J Stewart unloaded on a 1-1, down and in, 91 MPH four-seam fastball from Chacin and sent it 408 feet over the Orioles’ bullpen to get his side on the board early.
An inning later, after the Sox offense pushed across three runs of their own in their half of the first, the home run ball came back to bite Chacin once more, as the Venezuela native served up a one-out solo shot to Richie Martin off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seamer on the inner half of the plate. 3-3 ballgame.
In what would turn out to be his final frame, Chacin was just one out away from getting through three full, but he could not sneak a 1-0, 91 MPH two-seamer past a seemingly red-hot Renato Nunez, who proceeded to crush his second homer of the series to make it a 4-3 contest.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (38 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.7 MPH with his heater, a pitch he threw nine times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.
Ultimately getting hit with his 12th loss while raising his ERA on the year up to 6.01, Chacin’s tenure with the Red Sox may indeed be over.
Since inking a minor-league deal with the club in late August, the ex-Milwaukee Brewer posted a 7.36 ERA in six outings (five starts) and 14 2/3 innings pitched with Boston.
In relief of Chacin, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third with one out to get, and he walked Chris Davis on six pitches before doing just that.
From there, Heath Hembree fanned one in a perfect fourth inning, Ryan Brasier walked one and punched out two in a scoreless fifth, Andrew Cashner struggled and yielded four runs on five hits while only recording the first two outs of the sixth, Colten Brewer retired the side in the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh, and Josh Smith walked one in the eighth before getting taken deep by Trey Mancini in the ninth to increase his side’s deficit to five at 9-4.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up a fairly familiar foe in Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, someone who held them to two runs over six innings the last time he faced them back on July 19th.
Down by two runs before even taking their first at-bats, Jackie Bradley Jr. quickly got things going in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single.
Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with one swing of the bat, as he came through with his 33rd home run of the season, this one coming off a 2-2, 81 MPH changeup from Means and being hit a projected 414 feet over the Green Monster.
Before fans even had the chance to settle down from that two-run blast, J.D. Martinez followed suit by mashing his 36th big fly of the year, a 389-foot bomb, to put the Sox in front at 3-2.
Fast forward to the fifth, and it looked as though the top half of the lineup was about to come through again, with Rafael Devers representing the tying run at second and Bogaerts the go-ahead at first with two outs and Martinez coming to the plate.
A las, Martinez could not deliver this time up, as he flew out deep to right and would wind up being the last hitter Means faced.
An inning later, a leadoff walk drawn by Sam Travis against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong in a now five-run game would result in another Boston run coming across to score with Sandy Leon picking up his 19th ribbie of 2019 on a bloop of a two-out RBI single. 8-4.
In the seventh, a one-out single from Bogaerts followed by a one-out walk from Martinez and fielder’s choice off the bat of Travis put runners at second and third for Brock Holt against right-hander Branden Kline.
Having never faced Kline before Saturday, all Holt could do was ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, thus killing another shot at a potential rally.
And after squandering another chance in the eighth, Devers, Bogaerts, and Martinez went down in order in the ninth, as 9-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left nine men on base as a team.
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:
Well, this is it. One last game to wrap up what has been an underwhelming World Series-defending campaign.
In terms of season milestones, Mookie Betts is one homer away from 30, Rafael Devers is two hits away from 200, and Sunday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez is 3 2/3 innings away from 200 and one win away from 20.
Through three starts against Baltimore this season, Rodriguez is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 and OPS against of .522 over 21 total innings pitched.
The Orioles’ starter for Sunday, meanwhile, will be former Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd.
The 27-year-old right-hander was designated by Boston back on May 17th of this year in order to add catcher Oscar Hernandez to the 40-man roster when Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity leave list.
In four appearances (two starts) for Baltimore, Shepherd owns a 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 14 total innings of work.
Sunday could very well be the last time we see the core members of the 2018 Red Sox on the field together.
Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello are all soon-to-be free agents, J.D. Martinez could opt out of his current deal to become a free agent, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be traded, and even though he will not be playing, Steve Pearce might retire from baseball.
With all this uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox headed into the offseason, Sunday will provide us with one last chance to soak it all in.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to end the season on a high note.