The struggling Baltimore Orioles hosted the Boston Red Sox for a four-game series starting on Thursday. Coming into this series having lost their last four and losing possession of third place in the A.L. East, the Orioles desperately needed some wins in this series.
Asher Wojciechowski was given the ball in the series opener, looking to go deeper into this ballgame than he has been able to so far this season. Opposite Wojciechowski was Nathan Eovaldi, who has also struggled going deep into ball games for the Red Sox.
For one pitcher, that goal was achieved. That pitcher does not play for the Baltimore Orioles. Asher Wojciechowski got hit early and often, lasting just 3.2 innings, while giving up three runs off seven hits. On a positive note, Wojciechowski was able to strike out four.
Nathan Eovaldi was lights out for the Red Sox, becoming their first pitcher this season to pitch seven innings. The Orioles offense stalled, hitting Eovaldi just five times. Pat Valaika would provide the Orioles with their only run in the game, a solo home run in the seventh off Eovaldi.
The O’s dropped game one of this series 7-1.
John Means made his return for the Orioles in game two and showed more of the same struggles. Lasting only three innings, the command was just not there for Means.
The Red Sox were able to send Means deep twice, going ahead 3-0. In the fifth and sixth innings, the Red Sox broke it open, scoring five runs off Orioles reliever Jorge López.
Ryan Mountcastle would make his major league debut in this game, a long awaited day for Oriole fans. In his debut, Mountcastle walked two times.
The Birds would stage a partial comeback late in the game, starting the scoring off with another solo home run by Pat Valaika. Cedric Mullins would follow in the next at-bat with another home run, his first of the season.
Down 8-2 in the ninth, Chance Sisco got his chance with two runners on, sending a shot to left center and cutting the Red Sox lead to 8-5.
Unfortunately, the Orioles’ scoring would stop there as they dropped game two.
Now on a six-game losing streak, the Orioles needed a win to regain momentum. Game three would turn out to be a huge W in the books for the Birds.
Alex Cobb looked for his first win in OPACY as a starter for the Orioles. Through the first four innings, that looked very possible, as Cobb was solid, allowing no runs.
Valaika came to bat in the second inning and hit another solo home run. That’s three games in a row with a homer for Valaika, while also scoring the Orioles’ first runs in the first three games of this series as well.
Up 1-0 in the fifth, Cobb showed some fatigue, starting to leave some changeups hanging over the middle of the plate. Jackie Bradley Jr. sent one of these over the fence, tying the game at one a piece. Cobb would then allow an RBI double, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
In the eighth inning, the Orioles trailed 3-1, and Anthony Santander had yet to extend his 16-game hit streak. With a runner on base and two outs in a 1-2 count, Santander sent a laser past the foul pole in left on a fastball way up and inside. This tied the game at three and extended Santander’s hit streak to 17.
The O’s had a chance in the bottom of the 10th inning down 4-3, after Cole Sulser walked in a run for the Orioles in the top of the inning.
A wild pitch scored Rio Ruiz, and the game was tied. After an intentional walk to Santander, Pedro Severino sent a line drive into the gap in center to score the winning run.
The Birds snapped their six-game losing streak with a 5-4 walk-off victory in extras. Also, Ramón Urías and Ryan Mountcastle would both record their first major league base hits!
Looking to split this four-game set, the Orioles sent Wade LeBlanc to the mound. After less than an inning, LeBlanc was pulled from the game due to elbow discomfort. In .2 innings, LeBlanc allowed one run off a leadoff home run from Kevin Pillar.
Thomas Eshelman would come on in relief of LeBlanc, and he was solid. After walking his first batter seen, Eshelman retired the next 10 Red Sox batters. Lasting 4.1 hitless innings, Eshelman came in clutch for the Orioles.
Rio Ruiz broke out of his slump in the third, scoring two runs on a single. Later in the inning, Andrew Valazquez would lay down a two-out bunt that scored Ryan Mountcastle from third. The orioles took a 3-1 lead.
In the seventh, Ruiz would add two more RBI, launching a ball over the head of Kevin Pillar in left that landed on the warning track. This gave the birds a 5-2 lead.
Things got a little shaky in the ninth inning, when the Red Sox cut the Orioles’ lead to 5-4 following a two-run home run.
Tanner Scott would get the last out, and record his first major league save, as the Birds took game four 5-4.
Ryan Mountcastle has thrived in his first three games, doubling twice in game four of this series. After being said to have a poor batter’s eye, Mountcastle hushed those rumors, as he walked three times in three games, while only striking out once.
The Orioles have the day off Monday in preparation to start a three-game series in Tampa Bay against the Rays.
Back at .500 on the season at 14-14, the O’s are now tied for third place with the Toronto Blue Jays and are 4.5 games back of first place Tampa.