|Closing Time: Joel Hanrahan implodes in Red Sox’ loss to Orioles||04.10.13 at 10:45 pm ET|
The Red Sox’ sellout streak came to an end Wednesday night, and so did the team’s seemingly unstoppable wave of optimism (at least for a day).
Joel Hanrahan surrendered five runs in the ninth inning — blowing a two-run Red Sox lead — on the way to dropping an 8-5 loss to Baltimore.
The Orioles tied the game with two outs in the ninth when Hanrahan’s wild pitch allowed pinch-runner Alexi Casilla to come in. The Sox closer then surrendered a three-run homer to Manny Machado over the left-field wall, sealing the hosts’ fate.
It also was, of course, the first time in 820 games (including the postseason) that the Red Sox hadn’t played before a sellout crowd at Fenway (dating back to May 15, 2003).
The Red Sox had claimed what looked to be the decisive lead thanks to back-to-back home runs from Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the sixth inning against Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter. Nava’s solo shot broke open a 3-3 tie, just clearing the left-field wall, while Saltalamacchia launched his over the Red Sox’ bullpen. It was Nava’s third homer of the season (and the second time he was involved in back-to-back homers this season) and Saltalamacchia’s first.
Prior to Hanrahan’s outing, the Red Sox bullpen had turned in another solid performance, with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey teaming for three innings of hitless, scoreless relief.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• After beginning the season with seven error-free games, the Red Sox outfielders stopped the streak, committing a pair. The first miscue came in the first inning, when Jacoby Ellsbury dropped a fly ball off the bat of Machado. Ellsbury appeared to be distracted by right fielder Shane Victorino, who was also positioning himself to make the catch. Victorino was actually charged with the error. Jackie Bradley then committed his first miscue as a major leaguer, dropping the ball while trying to mount a throw home on Matt Wieters’ single.
• After taking a two-run lead in the third, Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster gave the lead back up in the following frame. The Orioles first closed the gap to a single run when Nick Markakis hit his first homer of the season into the Red Sox’ bullpen to lead off the inning. Then, after an Adam Jones single and Dempster wild pitch, Wieters plated his teammate with the game-tying run via a single to left.
• Hanrahan has now allowed homers in back-to-back games. It was the first time he has suffered such a fate since April 17-18, 2009. The outing also marked just the second time the closer had allowed as many as five runs as a reliever.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
• Dempster turned in a solid performance, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits over five innings. The righty, who threw 93 pitches before exiting following the rain delay, struck out seven and walked three. After two starts this season, his ERA stands at 3.60.
• Saltalmacchia kick-started the Red Sox’ offense after the Sox fell into a 1-0 hole, lofting a run-scoring double off the second inning, scoring Nava. Saltalamacchia would add another double in the fourth, eventually finding himself stranded at third base.
• The speedy trio of Bradley, Ellsbury and Victorino helped the Red Sox gain the lead in the fourth. After a Bradley walk, Ellsbury rifled a triple into the left field corner which Baltimore outfielder Nate McLouth couldn’t come up with after diving. After Ellsbury’s arrival at third, Victorino would promptly plate the Sox’ third run via a sacrifice fly.
• Uehara continued to cruise thus far, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning. The righty, who needed 14 pitches to retire his first six batters of the season, got all three Orioles he faced on a total of 12 pitches this time. Uehara hasn’t gone to one 1-0 count yet this season, having managed a single 1-1 count. He was followed by Tazawa, who also was perfect in his one inning of work (striking out two).
|Trade Deadline: Orioles reportedly making calls for corner infielders||07.24.12 at 12:50 pm ET|
As the trade deadline looms, a number of playoff contending teams are trying to fill necessary pieces to make a postseason run. The Orioles, who are second in the AL East and a half-game out of the top wild card spot, are one of those teams, and are reportedly going after a number of corner infielders.
According to industry sources, the Orioles have inquired about at least three names, including Padres third baseman Chase Headley, Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco and Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair. One source cautioned, however, that the talks seem to be just preliminary and nothing seems to be picking up speed just yet.
Polanco seems to be the best fit, as he is someone that can play multiple positions for a current Orioles infield that struggles defensively. Polanco, 36, is hitting .255 with two homers, 19 RBI and .990 fielding percentage in 82 games with the Phillies.
At his age, Polanco would cost considerably less as a rental for the Orioles than the younger Headley and LaHair. Headley, 28, is a switch hitter who has hit .268 with a .361 on-base percentage and 11 home runs and 50 RBI in his first 96 games with the Padres, who are reportedly asking a lot for him.
LaHair seems to be the most expensive asset of the three that the Orioles have asked for. The 29-year-old, who can play the corner outfield spots as well as first base, earned an All-Star selection this season for a breakout season in which he is hitting .282 with 14 home runs in 82 games.
|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Brian Matusz||05.22.12 at 7:16 am ET|
The Red Sox and Orioles will match up two young lefties in Tuesday night’s game at Camden Yards, as 24-year-old Felix Doubront will face off against 25-year-old Brian Matusz.
After not getting a decision in his first three starts, Doubront has become one of the most reliable arms on the Red Sox staff, earning a 4-1 record and winning his last three. Doubront has a 4.09 ERA and leads the Red Sox in strikeouts with 44, living up to the high hopes that many had for the Venezuelan entering his first season in the Red Sox rotation.
In his last start, Doubront struck out seven and only allowed one earned run in the Red Sox’ 4-1 win over the Rays. Of the six hits he allowed, only one was an extra-base hit. However, Doubront walked four hitters and hit one with a pitch in the outing.
As this is only his third season with Boston, the first two of which he made fewer than 15 appearances, Doubront has had limited experience with the Orioles lineup. However, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis all have hits off of him.
While Matusz is only one year older than Doubront, he has been in the big leagues for an extra year and has started 49 more games. Matusz was a former top-50 prospect in the league but has struggled to find consistency in his first few years in the majors.
Since his 5-2 record in 2009, Matusz’s record has worsened each year, as he recorded a 10-12 record in 2010 and a dismal 1-9 record last year. Matusz won his first decision of last year before losing his next nine major league starts, in the middle of which he was sent to the minors.
Matusz has improved from last season’s performance but has been inconsistent. The Grand Junction, Colo., native lost his first three starts of the year but has won three of his last four. Matusz has a 3-4 record and a 5.36 ERA.
Matusz has performed very well against David Ortiz, striking him out eight out of his 10 times facing the left-handed slugger. However, Matusz has struggled against another left-handed Red Sox power-hitter, as Adrian Gonzalez has three hits and two walks in his five plate appearances against Matusz.
|Rays’ Luke Scott rips Red Sox fans||02.29.12 at 8:59 pm ET|
Luke Scott was unable to play for the Orioles in the final game of the 2011 season. Even so, when Baltimore beat the Red Sox to complete the biggest September collapse in major league history, Scott — now a member of the Rays — was elated.
Scott told MLB.com that he took immense satisfaction in being on the team that ended the Red Sox’ season owing to his contempt for Sox fans.
“[Red Sox] fans come in and they take over the city. They’re ruthless. They’re vulgar. They cause trouble. They talk about your family. Swear at you. Who likes that? When people do that, it just gives you more incentive to beat them,” Scott told the website. “Then when things like [the last game of last season] happen, you celebrate even more. You go to St. Louis — classiest fans in the game. You do well, there’s no vulgarity. You know what? You don’t wish them bad.”
Scott described an Orioles clubhouse that celebrated the victory like it had won the World Series, and then took the celebration to another level when the Rays won on a walkoff homer over the Yankees to eliminate the Sox.
“We’re like, ‘Go home Boston! Pack your bags. See you next year,’” Scott told the website.
“I got to see a priceless thing driving back to my apartment,” Scott continued. “I see all the Boston fans walking around, and I mean they were crying crocodile tears. … It was like someone shot their dog. I rolled down the window and I’m like, ‘Ah, hah, sucks doesn’t it, when someone laughs or makes fun of you when things aren’t going your way.’”
While one might think that Scott’s outspoken criticism would make him vulnerable to anger from the Sox or their fans, it is worth noting that the outfielder — whom the Rays signed to a one-year, $6 million contract for 2012 — carries weaponry in the clubhouse.
|Hot Stove: Tony LaCava reportedly turns down Orioles GM job||11.01.11 at 6:39 pm ET|
According to FoxSports.com, Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava turned down the Orioles offer to become Baltimore’s general manager, filling a vacancy that was created when Andy MacPhail stepped down as Orioles president of baseball operations at the end of the season. LaCava made the decision after meeting with Orioles owner Peter Angelos on Monday.
The Orioles went 69-93 and finished in last place in the American League East in 2011. They have had 14 straight losing seasons, a streak that dates to 1998.
LaCava will remain with the Blue Jays in his current capacity as Assistant GM. The Orioles have also interviewed Dodgers Assistant GM De Jon Watson and Orioles farm director John Stockstill about the job. It remains to be seen whether the O’s conduct further interviews for the position.
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Andrew Miller vs. Jake Arrieta||07.20.11 at 8:22 am ET|
The Red Sox and Orioles will face off again at Camden Yards Wednesday, and Andrew Miller and Jake Arrieta will take the mound opposite one another for the second time this month. Back on July 7, Miller got the win on five innings of three-run, six-hit ball, while Arrieta struggled through 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits, including two home runs.
Miller (3-1, 5.68 ERA) took his first loss of the season in his last start, and it wasn’t pretty. The 26-year-old failed to get through the third inning Friday vs. the Rays, surrendering seven runs on five hits while walking five and striking out none. The big blow came on a Ben Zobrist grand slam in the second inning. Aside from that outing, Miller’s ERA has been well under 4.00, although he’s yet to pitch over six innings in a game this season.
The Orioles have faced Miller a combined 51 times, hitting .263 with two doubles and six RBI. Mark Reynolds leads the way with four hits and three walks in 10 plate appearances against the Boston starter. No other Orioles hitter has more than two hits against Miller. The right-hander has handled Derrek Lee well in eight matchups, holding him to 0-for-5 with three walks. Recently extended J.J. Hardy is an even 2-for-4 off Miller with a sacrifice fly. Overall, Miller has struggled with his command against Baltimore, issuing 10 walks while recording just five strikeouts.
Arrieta (9-6, 5.10 ERA) has had a miserable month of July, dropping all three of his starts thanks to an 8.79 ERA. The right-hander gave up five runs in each one of those outings and hasn’t pitched past the fifth inning since June 15. Arrieta has struggled to keep the ball in the park, allowing seven home runs in his last five starts. It’s been a dramatic collapse since his performance in June, when Arrieta went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA.
Arrieta has been a better pitcher at home, going 5-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 10 starts at Camden Yards. However, he surrendered five runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in his last start in Baltimore.
The Orioles starter has only faced the Red Sox twice in his career, and he has struggled with Boston’s lefty-heavy lineup. Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-5 with a double and a home run in his team-high five plate appearances against Arrieta. As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .364 with 10 RBI in just 37 plate appearances. Ten Boston hitters have faced Arrieta five times or less, and all but two of them have hits. Jacoby Ellsbury is 0-for-1 with two walks, and Josh Reddick is 0-for-2.
|Trade Deadline: Orioles will try to trade J.J. Hardy if they can’t agree on extension||07.12.11 at 5:00 pm ET|
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is confident that he’ll get a contract extension before the July 31 trade deadline. However, The Baltimore Sun Reports if a deal isn’t struck soon, the Orioles will likely consider shopping Hardy to avoid losing him to free agency.
Hardy is hitting .278 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI this year. He joined the Orioles last offseason in a trade from Minnesota, and has expressed a desire to stay in Baltimore.
“If [an extension] doesn’t get done during the [All-Star] break, hopefully we’ll make some good progress,” Hardy said.
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