Martin Perez Struggles in Debut as Red Sox Suffer First Loss of 2020 Season Against Orioles

The dream of the Red Sox going undefeated this season has flown out the window, as the club fell to the Orioles by a final score of 7-2 on Saturday afternoon.

Martin Perez, making his Red Sox debut, got the starting nod for Boston in this one, and let’s just say his Red Sox career did not get off to the best of starts.

That being the case because over five innings of work, the left-hander surrendered five runs, four of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the day.

If there are any positives to take away from Perez’s first outing of 2020, it’s the fact that all five runs he gave up to the Orioles came within the first two innings, as Renato Nunez clubbed a two-run double and proceeded to score on a Rafael Devers fielding error in the first, and Hanser Alberto and Jose Iglesias plated a pair on back-to-back one-out knocks in the second.

From there, Perez was able to escape the top half of the second thanks to some poor base running on the part of Alberto, then proceeded to sit down nine of the final 10 hitters he faced heading into the middle of the fifth to end his day on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (52 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his trusty cutter nearly 42% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing three whiffs with the pitch. He also topped out at 94 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just eight times.

Falling to 0-1 on the young season, Perez will look to bounce back in his next time out, which should come against the Mets in Queens on Thursday.

In relief of Perez, the Red Sox bullpen combined to yield two runs over the final four innings of Saturday’s contest. Heath Hembree was not a part of that effort, though, as the right-hander looked solid in his season debut by working a scoreless top of the sixth.

Newcomer Dylan Covey, on the other hand, was the Sox reliever who gave up those two runs. The 28-year-old served up a two-run double to Anthony Santander in the seventh which saw his side’s deficit increase to five runs, but he did somewhat rebound by fanning two in a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

And in the ninth, just looking to keep the deficit the same as it was, another newcomer, left-hander Josh Osich, needed just eight pitches to toss a perfect frame of relief in his Red Sox debut.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, fresh off plating 13 runs on Friday, was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles starter Alex Cobb on Saturday, and they had a much more difficult time getting anything across while matched up against the veteran right-hander.

In fact, the only time the Boston bats managed to get to Cobb came in his final inning of work, when with one out in the sixth, Mitch Moreland took the 32-year-old deep to right off a 1-1, 93 mph fastball for his and his side’s first home run of 2020.

At the time, that cut the Orioles’ lead down to four runs at 5-1, and after O’s manager Brandon Hyde swapped out Cobb for left-hander Paul Fry, three straight two-out hits from Alex Verdugo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Kevin Plawecki resulted in Boston’s second run of the inning crossing the plate courtesy of an infield RBI single off the bat of the Sox backstop. 5-2.

Another pitching change in the inning saw the pinch-hitting Xander Bogaerts come up to the plate representing the tying run with runners at the corners against Miguel Castro, but all the three-time Silver Slugger could do was whiff on three pitches to simultaneously kill the rally and end the inning.

That scoring chance would prove to be the Sox’ best chance to make things interesting, as J.D. Martinez and Verdugo were the only hitters to reach base for Boston the rest of the way in what would turn out to be a disappointing 7-2 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

Alex Verdugo collected three hits in his Red Sox debut, two of which came against left-handed pitching.

Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers are a combined 0-for-18 with nine strikeouts to begin the season.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is still an elite defensive center fielder. He also collected another two hits on Saturday.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Following his Red Sox debut, Dylan Covey was subsequently optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look for their first series win of the year over Baltimore on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Ryan Weber, fresh off making his first career Opening Day roster, will be getting the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Wade LeBlanc will be doing the same for the Orioles.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI once again. Sox looking to bounce back.

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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