The Garrett Richards era did not off to a great start for the Red Sox on Sunday, as the club extended its season-opening losing streak to three consecutive games following an 11-3 defeat at the hands of the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Richards, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Sox in February, made his highly-anticipated team debut in this one. To put it simply, it did not go well.
The right-hander yielded six runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the afternoon. In the process of allowing all those runs, Richards managed to record just six outs before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after walking the bases full in the top half of the third inning.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (35 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly half of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.6 mph with the pitch.
Ultimately hit with his first losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 27.00, Richards will look to rebound in his next time out against these same Orioles next Saturday in Baltimore.
In relief of Richards, left-hander Josh Taylor inherited a mess and closed the book on the Sox starter’s day by allowing seven more runs (four of which were charged to him) before Garrett Whitlock came on for what was his major-league debut.
Pitching in a competitive environment for the first time in nearly two years, Whitlock — a 2020 Rule 5 Draft pick — carried over the success he enjoyed this spring into his first appearance with the Red Sox by twirling 3 1/3 scoreless frames of relief while scattering just three hits and punching out five.
From there, Hirokazu Sawamura worked a scoreless top of the seventh, while Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino both made their 2021 debuts in the top halves of the eighth and ninth innings of Sunday’s contest.
Barnes, responsible for the eighth, maneuvered his way around a one-out walk in an otherwise clean frame. Ottavino, responsible for the ninth, surrendered one run on two hits and two walks in what was also his Red Sox debut.
All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up 11 runs to the Orioles on 17 hits, eight walks, and 15 strikeouts. The Boston pitching staff had been effective in the team’s first two games of the season, but that was not the case on Sunday.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was again held in check by a Baltimore pitching staff that was led by rookie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann this time around.
By the time the Boston bats managed to push something across on a Kiké Hernández sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third, they were already in a 10-0 hole.
J.D. Martinez continued his hot start to the new season by crushing a 429-foot solo home run to deep center field — his and his team’s first big fly of the year — off Zimmermann to lead off the fourth to make it a 10-2 contest.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez again got the best of Zimmermann, this time lifting a run-scoring double to the left field corner that brought in Hernandez all the way from first.
Martinez’s second of two hits on the afternoon cut the Boston deficit to 10-3, but three runs is all the Sox could manage as 11-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.
Some notes from this loss:
From Sox Notes:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
The Red Sox have started a season 0-3 for the first time since 2012. This is also the first time they have started a season 0-3 at Fenway Park since 1948.
Next up for the Red Sox, they will look to bounce back from a series-opening sweep to the Orioles by welcoming in another divisional foe to Fenway in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Right-hander Nick Pivetta will be making his 2021 debut for Boston, and he will be opposed by former Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who will also be making his 2021 debut for Tampa Bay.
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox still looking for their first win of the season in what will be their first game under the lights this year.
(Picture of Garrett Richards: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)