Game 45: Baltimore Orioles at Red Sox (May 18, 2018)

So much for my hope of Drew Pomeranz bouncing back with a good start this game! What a way to kick off the baseball weekend...the weather rained out a workout my oldest daughter had scheduled with a new travel team, so after a nice family dinner around the table I sat down to watch the game with visions of another drubbing in my head. That's exactly what happened...but it was the wrong team doing it.

When Drew Pomeranz walked the first batter of the game on four straight pitches, I knew it wasn't going to be good and I was proven correct. He lived dangerously for the first few innings, giving up what seemed like a ton of doubles and allowing baserunners into scoring position with either one or no outs. He was able to escape relatively unscathed for a little bit...he gave up a run on a Mark Trumbo fielder's choice with the bases loaded in the first to make it 1-0, a run the Sox quickly got back when Mookie Betts smacked a solo shot over the Green Monster in the third to tie it at 1. However, the wheels fell completely off the cart for Pomeranz in the fourth when he gave up four runs, first on a two-RBI double from Adam Jones, which was followed shortly by a two-RBI single from Manny Machado.  Just like that, it was 5-1 Orioles. At that point, I still wasn't too worried because Orioles starter Alex Cobb was 0-5 on the season and the Red Sox smacked him around last time they faced him...surely the Sox could get those runs back quickly, right? Wrong. They picked up a run on Mookie's RBI double in the bottom of the fifth and another later in the inning on an Andrew Benintendi RBI single, but as has been typical this season, as soon as they started pulling closer the bullpen gave up more runs. This time it was Stephen Wright who gave up a solo shot to Jonathon Schoop in the seventh to push the Baltimore lead back to three runs, 6-3. This was repeated again as Eduardo Nunez drove in Xander Bogaerts in the eighth to cut it to 6-4, but in the ninth Trumbo drove in another run to make it 7-4 Baltimore. That's where it ended as the Sox dropped an entirely winnable game to an awful, awful team. Luckily the Yankees lost so the two teams remain tied atop the AL East.

I think it's safe to say that Pomeranz is not going to have a season like last year and that any concerns over his performance are completely valid (and warranted). He's always had a maddening tendency to nibble around the plate and throw very inefficiently, but his command looked even more suspect than usual tonight. Even Dennis Eckersley was commenting on how bad he looked during the broadcast. He once again only went four innings and forced the Sox to use the bullpen a lot's a good thing David Price went the distance last night. Hell, what we saw tonight was the complete antithesis of what Price did last night. Pomeranz only struck out two and walked three, giving up seven hits (all of them hit HARD) and five runs. It was another forgettable outing in a season full of them for Drew so far. Stephen Wright did well in long relief, pitching 4.2 innings (more innings than Pomeranz!), striking out five and giving up two runs. Unfortunately, the hole Pomeranz put them in was too much to climb out of. As far as the offense, for whatever reason, Cobb stymied them and while the Sox piled up the hits, they couldn't get them when it mattered.  Mookie continued to rake going 3-5, while JD Martinez, Eduardo Nunez, and even Christian Vazquez all chipped in with two hits a apiece. Unfortunately, the tendency of the Red Sox making stupid outs on the basepaths continued tonight: Mookie was doubled up off second base on an embarrassing play straight out of Little League, while Bogaerts was easily thrown out trying to steal second base. The combination of bad baserunning to kill scoring chances combined with shaky starting pitching was too much to overcome. Also, Jackie Bradley looked as hopeless as ever, going 0-2 with two strikeouts on very short at bats. I don't know what his deal is this season, but it's starting to look more and more like he may not ever snap out of it. He's got 117 more games to figure it out, assuming they give him that many more chances.

All in all, a forgettable game and another in a month-long string of bad performances against bad teams. The Sox are 13-13 since their 17-2 start and are 2-3 on this homestand when in all honestly they should be 5-0 or close to it based on the quality of their two opponents. The trend of playing down to the level of their competition has  to be as frustrating for them as it is for me. I confess that I'm not sure that I have faith in them snapping out of it for these last two games against the Orioles...we'll see how it pans out this weekend.