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Closing Time: Inconsistency continues for Red Sox in latest loss 04.26.15 at 4:50 pm ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

The Red Sox‘ starting pitching roller coaster keeps on rolling.

This time the group’s downturn came in the form of Wade Miley’s 2 1/3-inning horror show. This time the lefty second sub-three-inning outing of the season led to a 18-7 Orioles rout of the Red Sox.

Miley was forced from the start in the third inning, in which the hosts put up a six-spot on the scoreboard. The Sox starter was ultimately charged with seven runs (six earned) on five hits and two walks. His ERA now stands at 8.62, having not pitched past 5 2/3 innings in any of his four starts.

It marks the sixth time in 19 games the Red Sox starting pitcher has allowed five or more runs. The rotation carries a 5.94 ERA, worst in the major leagues, with Joe Kelly leading the way with a 4.08 ERA, followed by Clay Buchholz (4.84), Justin Masterson (5.16) and Rick Porcello (6.48).

The loss hands the Red Sox a 2-4 road trip, having won the first game of both their series against the Rays and Orioles before dropping the final two. The Red Sox starters finished the two-series swing with a 5.31 ERA, coming away with three quality starts.

The Red Sox head home out of first-place, standing at 10-9, as Tampa Bay (11-8) holds that top stop, which has won five straight after losing its season opener to the Sox.

Not helping matters was the ineffective work of the bullpen after Miley, with newly-recalled Heath Hembree taking the brunt of the damage, giving up 11 runs in 6 2/3 innings. The righty let the game get out of hand, giving up six runs in 1 1/3 frames.

It marked the fifth straight game the bullpen gave up at least one run. For the road trip, Sox relievers pitched 20 2/3 innings and allowed 17 runs on 31 hits.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The entire Orioles lineup. The group batted around twice, with every starter but one coming away with a multiple hit day.

Here’s what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ latest loss:

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, wade miley,
Closing Time: Brock Holt’s 3-run homer snaps tie, leads Red Sox over Orioles 04.24.15 at 10:39 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Through the first 16 games of the season, the Red Sox have made it a habit to capitalize on their opponents mistakes.

Friday was no different, as the Red Sox were given an extra out on a Manny Machado error with two outs in the eighth inning and the next batter, Brock Holt, made him pay with a three-run home run. The homer snapped a 4-4 tie and gave the Red Sox an eventual 7-5 win over the Orioles.

Pablo Sandoval worked a two-out walk and then pinch-hitter Allen Craig’s grounder got by Machado at third, which was ruled an error. Holt then stepped in and belted a three-run home run over the wall in right. It was his first homer of the season.

With a three-run lead, Junichi Tazawa allowed a solo home run to Chris Davis in the eighth, but fortunately it was just a solo home run and then Koji Uehara came on for a scoreless ninth to pick up the save.

It was an up-and-down outing for Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who made it into the seventh inning, but couldn’t record an out. He allowed the first two batters to reach and was pulled in favor of Craig Breslow. Breslow allowed one of the inherited runners to score, which tied the game at four.

Porcello went six-plus innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven. For the first time this season he didn’t eclipse the 100-pitch mark, as he was removed after throwing 91 pitches. He was given a two-run lead going into the fifth, but allowed single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to take a no-decision.

The Red Sox have now won all six series openers this season.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Holt. His home run snapped the four-all tie in the eighth inning. He finished the game 2-for-4 and is now hitting .424 on the year.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, rick porcello
Mookie Betts, John Farrell can feel the worm beginning to turn back in his favor 04.20.15 at 11:08 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Little by little, Mookie Betts can feel things turning back in his direction. And so, too, can his manager.

Statistically, it was a pretty rough first homestand for the young outfielder, collecting five hits in 25 official at-bats. This after he started like a house on fire in both the season opener and the home openers. Betts homered in Philadelphia on April 6 and against the Nationals on April 13.

On Monday against the Orioles, he singled to right field in his first at-bat. The impact on the rest of the team was immediate and positive. He stole second, advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway bad throw and scored on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly to right. His run, unearned, was what the Red Sox envisioned when they put him at the top of the order.

“It’s good. I feel like it’s not just the top,” Betts said. “A couple of games ago, it was the bottom that scored the runs. There’s no difference between the top and the bottom. It’s just a matter of who does it on any given day.”

On Sunday, he drove a ball hard to deep right field, only to have it caught just shy of the warning track. The balls to the opposite field are always a good sign but especially so when you consider teams have made an adjustment after getting burned on fastballs inside to Betts. On Sunday and Monday, it appeared Betts was the one making the adjustment.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles. MLB, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, mookie betts
John Farrell, Buck Showalter know their teams will be at each other all season at 10:31 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot's Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot’s Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

From the moment Buck Showalter‘s Orioles shocked the Red Sox and helped complete the greatest collapse in baseball history in 2011, the Orioles and Red Sox have been at each other’s throats.

In 2012, the Orioles eliminated the Rangers in the AL wild card game, taking the Yankees to the limit in five games before bowing out in the ALDS.

In 2013, the Red Sox won the World Series. In 2014, the Orioles won the AL East and made it to the American League Championship Series before bowing out to the Royals.

Now, the two AL East rivals appeared poised to battle each other over the long course of the season for supremacy in their division. Entering Monday’s series finale, the two teams stood at 7-5 after the Orioles won two of the first three games.

The first three games featured equal parts gamesmanship and respect from Showalter and Red Sox skipper John Farrell. So, when the Red Sox pulled out a 7-1 rain-shortened win to split the series and head to Tampa Bay with some first-place momentum, Farrell was happy to provide some very early season perspective on the Orioles and the rest of the division.

“Big win? “Sure it is. They’re a good team,” Farrell said. “I would imagine we’re going to be neck-and-neck with most everybody in this division throughout. And anytime you can come away in the final game of a series to earn a split, whether it’s home or road, it sends us off on a positive note. We’re going to end up right back there at the end of this week, going up against them for three.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, John Farrell
David Ortiz blasts Jim Palmer over critical tweets: ‘All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh?’ at 4:33 pm ET
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David Ortiz has a bone to pick with Jim Palmer.

The hall of fame pitcher and long time Orioles broadcaster criticized David Ortiz on Twitter Sunday after he flipped his bat and dropped it at the plate after a check-swing that was call strike two by third base umpire Jerry Meals.

Meals yelled at Ortiz long distance and Ortiz returned the favor. When home plate umpire John Tumpane (filling in for Paul Emmel) interceded, Ortiz got in Tumpane’s face and was ejected.

Palmer tweeted: FINALLY Oritz gets tossed with hashtags that included #ZipitOrtiz and #disrespectful. Then, early Monday, Palmer tweeted another not-so thinly veiled shot at Ortiz: O’s fans: Marathon day in Boston. What’s the over under on Ortiz going 9?

Ortiz, asked about Palmer by ESPN’s Gordon Edes after Monday’s rain-shortened 7-1 win, didn’t hold back.

“Actually, I thought he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who want to get paid, make some noise and come to Papi, right? All right.”

Edes then attempted to provide some perspective and context to the tweet on behalf of Palmer, suggesting Palmer wasn’t hating on Ortiz.

“Oh no?,” Ortiz said, before offering some advice to Palmer, “I don’t need your help. [If] he wants me to respect him, it ain’t going to happen.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Jim Palmer
Closing Time: Red Sox take advantage of Orioles mistakes in rain-shortened Patriots Day win at 3:07 pm ET
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Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lineup is dangerous with the standard three outs. Give them more than three outs is asking for disaster.

Taking full advantage of getting extra outs, the Red Sox rolled to a 7-1 win over the Orioles on Patriots Day at Fenway Park. The game was stopped because of rain the the middle of the seventh inning at 1:25 p.m., and officially called at 3:08 p.m.

Baltimore committed three errors leading to five unearned runs.

The Red Sox batted around in the third inning, scoring five unearned runs, while only recording one hit in the frame. Orioles Starter Wei-Yin Chen misplayed a Mookie Betts come-backer allowing the first run to score, and then later in the inning with two outs, third baseman Manny Machado misplayed a Shane Victorino grounder down the line allowing two more runs to score.

“The errors kid of gift-wrapped or built into the four-run inning along with some base on balls were built into the four-run inning along with some base on balls,” manager John Farrell said. “At this level you get extra outs you’re asking for trouble and it’s happened to us defensively. Hopefully we stay on the positive side of it.”

Chen went 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (all unearned) on just three hits, but he walked five.

Red Sox starter Justin Masterson delivered his best start of the season, allowing one run over five innings, while picking up six strikeouts. His fastball averaged in the high-80’s, but he was able to have success with a good slider keeping the Orioles hitters off balance.

“He battled the elements and was able to use his fastball-slider combination effectively,” Farrell said. “I think the most impressive thing was he had a couple of long innings and he was still able to come out and get loose and keep the feel of the baseball on a day where the conditions probably weren’t the greatest.”

The Red Sox improved to 69-51 on Patriots Day and have won 11 of the last 15 since 2001.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Betts. The center fielder once again was a spark plug at the top of the order, giving the Red Sox momentum from the start, stealing second, taking third on an error and scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. He went 1-for-4 overall, but reached base twice while scoring two runs.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, justin masterson, mookie betts
Red Sox starting rotation struggling after first 2 weeks, posting worst ERA in baseball 04.19.15 at 6:57 pm ET
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After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Going into the season it was understood the Red Sox wouldn’t have the best starting rotation in the game.

But, the worst starting rotation (by ERA) after two weeks? That wasn’t expected, or accepted.

Following Rick Porcello allowing eight runs in five-plus innings in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles on Sunday, through 12 games the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has a combined ERA of 6.24, the worst in baseball.

Porcello, who had been the best starter to this point in the year, struggled with his command as well as the home run ball, allowing two homers en route to the eight runs in five-plus innings and his first loss. He’s now allowed five home runs in 19 innings so far this season.

“Just pitches up in the zone,” Porcello said. “Good pitches for them to drive. I’€™ve got to work better at getting the ball down.”

Of the 12 games the Red Sox have played so far this season, Red Sox starters have recorded an out in the seventh inning just three times, gone less than five innings three times, and have allowed more than seven runs four times.

The last stat is particularly alarming — in a third of their games this season, Red Sox starters have allowed seven or more runs.

Clay Buchholz allowed 10 against the Yankees, Porcello eight against the Orioles, and lastly Wade Miley and Justin Masterson seven against the Nationals. (For what it’s worth, Jon Lester and John Lackey combined for four starts allowing seven or more runs all of last season)

Buchholz and Porcello were predicted to lead the rotation, but after the first two weeks the Red Sox have two players in the top-10 for worst ERA’s in the American League among qualifiers — Porcello (sixth, 6.63) and Buchholz (ninth, 6.06).

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, rick porcello,
Closing Time: Rick Porcello struggles, David Ortiz ejected as Red Sox fall to Orioles at 4:52 pm ET
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Rick Porcello allowed eight runs and tied a career-high in hits allowed (12) taking his first loss of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello allowed eight runs and tied a career-high in hits allowed (12) taking his first loss of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Some nights the Red Sox offense will be able to bail a starting pitcher out for not having a good performance, but it’s tough when the starter allows eight runs over five-plus innings.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello allowed eight runs in five-plus innings, as they fell to the Orioles 8-3 Sunday at Fenway Park. The Orioles have won two straight games in the series after the Red Sox had a walkoff win Friday night.

After throwing 96 pitches through the first five innings, Porcello went back out for the sixth and after hitting Caleb Joseph to lead off the inning, allowed three straight hits, including a bases clearing double to Adam Jones, as the Orioles extended their lead to five runs.

Porcello finished going five-plus innings, allowing eight runs on 12 hits, while walking three and striking out six. The 12 hits allowed tied a career-high and his is ERA through three starts is 6.63.

“I thought early on, a 1-0 sinker or a 0-1 sinker that didn’t have the finish to [Adam] Jones for the two-run dinger,” manger John Farrell said. “There ended up being some pitches left up in the strike zone. He had to fight back in the count at times. Left-handers took some good swings against him.”

Through 12 starts, the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has a collective ERA of 6.24.

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits to earn the win. Red Sox hitters finished with six total hits in the game, and just four after the first inning. They finished the game 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Jones. Besides the big double in the sixth, Jones hit a monster home run in the first inning and finished 4-for-5 with five RBI. The five RBI and four hits both tie a career-high.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Adam Jones, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, rick porcello
Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman take swipes at ‘forever’ pace of Clay Buchholz 04.18.15 at 11:37 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his six innings, taking 102 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman
Power isn’t everything to John Farrell when it comes to a good bullpen at 7:18 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

As the Red Sox assembled their 2015 bullpen over the winter, there were some questions as to whether they had enough “power” arms in the back end of games.

Power bullpens have become all the rage among those teams who fancy themselves World Series contenders. Kansas City is the most classic example, as the Royals rode a trio of 98-plus arms to the Fall Classic last year. Detroit has had success in the past employing a similar formula. In the National League, St. Louis has had a great deal of success with pitchers who overpower batters at the end of games, led by Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez (now a starter).

But the Red Sox saw a different way. With Matt Barnes the only true power arm in camp with a shot at the roster, and with names like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica already with spots on the club, the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction. The Red Sox added Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando and perhaps the hardest thrower of the bunch, Robbie Ross Jr.

The results have not been bad so far. Entering Saturday, in 42.2 innings, they’ve allowed 33 hits and walked 14 for a 1.10 WHIP. The ERA is 2.74 and they allowed four of 12 inherited runners to score. They’ve had just two save chances and converted one, with Mujica’s blown chance in New York being the only missed opportunity.

If Red Sox relievers have proven anything, they’ve shown you don’t have to overpower batters to get good results, including strikeouts, recording 37 so far in 2015 before Saturday.

“Location is important but I think what we have are a number of relievers that use an assortment of pitches rather than rely on arm strength and velocity,” Farrell said. “Bottom line is outs. How they get them, the ability create some mishits. Sure, strikeouts are good but we have guys capable of strikeouts, even though they’re of average major league velocity.”

Another trait Red Sox relievers have is experience. And with experience comes adjustments. Mujica threw mainly fastballs on April 10 in New York before Chase Headley timed one and tied the game. Friday night, he opened with seven straight splitters and recorded a key strikeout of Manny Machado to bail out Joe Kelly.

“His last two, three outings, he’s gone to that pitch a little bit more than the night in New York where there were a high number of consecutive fastballs,” Farrell said of Mujica. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence in his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw it for a strike and put a hitter away with it.”

That was followed by scoreless performances from Tazawa and Uehara, both masters of the split-fingered fastball.

“Well, it says in those games, our bullpen has pitched very effectively, and that was certainly the case [Friday] night,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of experience last year in one-run games. Unfortunately, it might not have always been to our advantage. We have veteran players that made good decisions in moment on the field.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, junichi tazawa, Koji Uehara
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