The Red Sox blew a four-run lead in a series-opening loss to the Orioles on Monday night. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 5-4 at Camden Yards to drop back to .500 at 12-12 on the season.
Matched up against Orioles starter Dean Kremer out of the gate, the Sox opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. With two outs and nobody on, Triston Casas took Kremer 426 feet deep to right-center field for his third home run of the year.
An inning later, Connor Wong drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on a Yu Chang groundout, and scored from second on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Alex Verdugo. Rafael Devers then doubled Boston’s lead by crushing a 387-foot two-run home run onto Eutaw Street.
Devers’ American League-leading ninth homer of the season left his bat at a blistering 115 mph and put the Red Sox up, 4-0, going into the middle of the third. To that point in the contest, Chris Sale had faced the minimum through his first two innings of work before running into some legitimate trouble.
Cedric Mullins, who was at the plate when Ramon Urias recorded the final out of the second by getting thrown out by Wong on a failed stolen base attempt, led off the bottom of the third with a line-drive double. After Jorge Mateo lined out, Adam Frazier plated the speedy Mullins on an RBI single for the Orioles’ first run of the night.
Sale escaped any further damage in the third by getting Austin Hays to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play. But the O’s really got to the left-hander in their half of the fourth. Following back-to-back one-out hits from Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander, Urias made up for his previous blunder by driving in both runners on a ground-rule double to cut the deficit to one. James McCann knotted things up at four runs apiece with another hard-hit single to right field.
In the fifth, Sale gave up a leadoff double to Jorge Mateo, who then scored the go-ahead run on a single from Hays. Sale yielded one more base hit before getting Mountcastle to ground into yet another inning-ending double play to end his night. The 34-year-old southpaw wound up allowing five earned runs on nine hits and one walk over five innings. He failed to strike out a single batter after punching out 11 in his last start.
Of the 83 pitches Sale threw on Monday, 52 went for strikes. He managed to induce just two swings-and-misses while being charged with the loss and seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 8.22.
To lead off the sixth inning, it appeared as though the Red Sox were ready to respond as Justin Turner reached on a line-drive single. A red-hot Masataka Yoshida followed with a single of his own, but Turner was thrown out at third base after unsuccessfully attempting to go from first to third. Yoshida moved into scoring position on the play, but he was stranded there after both Enrique Hernandez and Casas were retired.
Following a scoreless bottom of the sixth from Ryan Brasier, Wong drew a one-out walk off Baltimore reliever Bryan Baker, but he was thrown out at second in an otherwise quiet offensive inning for Boston. Newcomer Brennan Bernardino then took over out of the bullpen and scattered four hits across two shutout frames.
That sequence of events brought the Red Sox down to their final three outs in the top of the ninth. After Yoshida drew a leadoff walk, pinch-runner Raimel Tapia was able to move up to second base on a balk. Orioles reliever Yennier Cano then stranded the potential tying run at second by striking out both Hernandez and Casas before getting Jarren Duran to line out to end it.
All told, Monday’s loss took two hours and 29 minutes to complete. Yoshida accounted for three of Boston’s seven hits and reached base in all four of his plate appearances.
Chang leaves game with wrist injury
While batting with one out in the seventh inning, Yu Chang swung and missed on a 1-1, 83 mph slider from Bryan Baker and left the game with what the Red Sox later described as “left wrist pain.” Christian Arroyo took over for Chang mid-at-bat and struck out.
Fatse, Cora ejected
Red Sox hitting coach Pete Fatse was ejected by home plate umpire Junior Valentine in the top of the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Manager Alex Cora was also ejected by third base umpire Quinn Wolcott at the end of the game, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Next up: Kluber vs. Bradish
The Red Sox will turn to Corey Kluber, who is in desperate need of a strong start, in the middle game of this three-game series on Tuesday. The Orioles will counter with fellow righty Kyle Bradish.
First pitch from Oriole Park at Camden Yards is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Chris Sale: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)