After suffering their first extra-innings loss of the year on Saturday, the Red Sox had to settle for a series split in Baltimore on Sunday following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.
Zack Godley made his fifth start and sixth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, and he had a tough time consistently finding the strike zone.
Over just 2 2/3 innings pitched, the right-hander was charged with three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits, five walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.
All three of those Baltimore tallies came with Godley off the mound, but right after the South Carolina native had walked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third.
With his pitch count already at 70 (40 strikes), Godley got the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of the recently recalled Jeffrey Springs.
So, in came the left-handed Springs with one out to get in the third and nowhere to put Rio Ruiz.
Ruiz, in turn, laced a two-run single to right-center field and Andrew Velazquez followed by dropping down a bunt and reaching base on another run-scoring base hit.
That unfortunate sequence for Boston put the O’s up 3-1, and it officially closed the book on Godley’s disappointing day.
Dropping to 0-3 on the year while bumping his ERA up to 7.29, Godley’s spot in the Sox’ starting rotation may be in jeopardy moving forward. If he were to get another start, it would likely come against the Nationals next weekend.
Going back to Springs now, the 27-year-old, managed to escape any further damage in the third by getting Cedric Mullins to pop out to second and then danced his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless bottom of the fourth.
In the fifth, Springs again gave up another two-base hit, but also recorded the first two outs of the frame before Phillips Valdez came on and retired the side with a 4-3 putout.
Valdez returned for the sixth as well and needed just 14 pitches to face the minimum three batters despite giving up a two-out single to Renato Nunez. Kevin Pillar’s arm was the main reason for that.
From there, Robert Stock surrendered two runs on three hits in the seventh to put his side in a 5-2 hole, and Ryan Weber kept that deficit at three with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
All in all, in relief of Godley, the Boston bullpen combined to allow two runs on eight hits, no walks, and six strikeouts over 5 1/3 total frames pitched. Not too shabby of an effort, although it really did not mean all that much in the end.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc for the Orioles.
Kevin Pillar wasted no time in getting the Sox on the board on Sunday, as he greeted LeBlanc in the first by crushing his first career leadoff home run 401 feet to left-center field on the second pitch of the game.
In the sixth, Pillar struck again, this time leading off against Orioles reliever Miguel Castro, ripping a line-drive single to left, and coming around to score on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.
The Sox cut Baltimore’s deficit to just one on Bogaerts’ 17th RBI of the year, and they could have even tacked on some more runs had J.D. Martinez not been gunned down at home on a Christian Vazquez fielder’s choice and Michael Chavis not punched out on five pitches to end the inning.
Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with the Red Sox trailing 5-2 and down to their final out, things got a tad bit interesting when Jackie Bradley Jr. clubbed a two-run homer, his second long ball in as many days, off left-hander Tanner Scott to make it a 5-4 game.
Jonathan Arauz followed with a single back up the middle to put the tying run on base as the Boston lineup flipped back over and Pillar was due to hit next.
Alas, the 31-year-old swung at the first pitch he saw once again, but instead of sending it out of the park, grounded it to short, resulting in an inning-ending force out at second as 5-4 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.
Some notes and observations from this defeat:
The Red Sox went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. They left six runners on base as a team.
From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:
Next up for the 9-20 Red Sox, they will a day off on Monday for the first time since August 6, as this run of 17 games in 17 days has come to an end.
Following the off day, the Sox will open up a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, the home of Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Boston took two out of three from the Jays in the only series between the two clubs thus far.
Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the starting nod for the Red Sox in the opener of that three-game set, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.
Through his first two maj0r-league starts since getting called up on August 13, the 27-year-old southpaw has allowed nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits, seven walks, and nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 total innings pitched.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.