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The Red Sox fell to the Orioles 6-3 Sunday afternoon thanks to another disastrous outing from Zach Stewart.
Things started much the same for Stewart in Baltimore as hey had in Los Angeles. On just the fourth pitch of the game, a flat fastball to Nate McLouth resulted in a leadoff homer, and a pair of singles followed close behind. Plunking Adam Jones to load the bases with one out, a double play ball would help to limit the damage, though Jim Thome singled to add a third run all-the-same.
While he managed to improve in the second, earning three quick ground balls, Stewart fell right back into his same bad habits in the third, offering up an almost identical leadoff homer to J.J. Hardy and then being pulled after another pair of singles scored a fifth run for Baltimore.
Joe Saunders, meanwhile, wasn't exactly looking impressive on the mound, but was having better results. Hard contact over and over led to outs over and over, frustrating the Red Sox over and over. Cody Ross managed to make him pay for his poor pitching in the fourth with a leadoff solo shot, but that was all the Sox managed until the seventh, when Daniel Nava took him deep for two.
Still, that would be good for just three runs, and with Chris Davis taking a good pitch from Clayton Mortensen deep in the fifth, the Orioles were able to pick up a sixth. The Sox went quietly against the Baltimore bullpen, and the Orioles completed the sweep.
The Red Sox are set to close out their series against the Baltimore Orioles, hoping (as they have been so often of late) just to dodge the sweep.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 3, Mid 8th -- Darren O'Day replaces Joe Saunders after a leadoff strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury, and then immediately surrenders a single to Dustin Pedroia. The second baseman gets himself caught stealing, however, and O'Day ends things with a strikeout of Cody Ross, leaving the SOx with a three run deficit and just three outs in which to close it.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 3, End 7th -- Chris Carpenter replaces Clayton Mortensen with a bit of a messy inning, but not an unsuccessful one. After a leadoff single and steal from Nate McLouth, the Orioles bunt him over to third. The Sox choose to put Chris Davis on behind him and pitch to Adam Jones, and the gambit ends up working perfectly. A ground ball gets the Sox a double play, and brings the inning to a scoreless conclusion.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 3, Mid 7th -- The Sox draw closer in the seventh. Saunders finally has his mediocre pitching catch up to him again when he offers up a very Zach Stewart-like fastball to Daniel Nava, who drops it into the stands past the foul pole in left field with Ryan Lavarnway on base for a two-run shot. It's easy to forget how solid Nava was for the team back before his injury. He hasn't really found that consistency again since, but it's nice to see some positive signs.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, End 6th -- Clayton Mortensen finishes of the sixth in short order. He's done plenty of work tonight for a guy who's been used mostly as a one-inning reliever, and given that his only run came on a pretty good pitch, he's done a very good job for the team.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, Mid 6th -- It's a tired mantra by now, but more hard hits still lead to nothing in the fifth, with everything in the air and occasionally on a line against Joe Saunders in another 1-2-3 frame.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, End 5th -- It's a tough-luck homer that costs Clayton Mortensen a run in the fifth. A changeup starts low and goes lower, but Chris Davis manages to get underneath it and golf it into the stands for a solo shot that makes it 6-1.
Orioles 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 5th -- Pedro Ciriaco is the one picking up the double this inning, and Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury are the men leaving him stranded afterwards. They've got to make good on all these extra base hits at some point.
Orioles 5, Red Sox 1, End 4th -- Clayton Mortensen does good work in his first full inning, getting a 1-2-3 frame with a strikeout of Nate McLouth.
Orioles 5, Red Sox 1, Mid 4th -- The Sox finally turn that loud contact into results, with Cody Ross ripping a leadoff solo shot to deep left field. That's all they manage, however, as Danny Valencia's single is erased by a double play.
Orioles 5, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- Zach Stewart goes back to his old ways in the third, and is rewarded with a trip to the dugout. After J.J. Hardy took him deep on another floating "fastball", Stewart surrendered another pair of hits which, with an Adam Jones single mixed in, was good for a fifth run. Clayton Mortensen would be called on to end things with a strikeout of Ryan Flaherty, but the damage is done.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- This time it's Jose Iglesias of all people to get the big contact off of Joe Saunders. Unlike the first two innings, however, it's an isolated incident in an otherwise strong third, with two ground balls and a strikeout of Pedro Ciriaco besides.
Orioles 3, Reds Sox 0, End 2nd -- Surprisingly enough, Stewart follows up his awful first with a 1-2-3 second, with all three outs coming on the ground. Quite the change from the first.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- More hard contact marks the second inning against Joe Saunders, and this time Ryan Lavarnway actually manages to turn some of that into a double, giving the Sox their first baserunner. Saunders has his first really successful at bat to finish things, however, striking out Daniel Nava to end the frame.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- The answer is yes, but barely. On just the fourth pitch of the game, Stewart floats an 89 MPH "fastball" high and slightly outside to Nate McLouth who obliges by going to the opposite field for a leadoff solo shot. That's just the opening volley, however. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corners and Adam Jones gets hit to load the bases still without an out in the inning. Given that situation, the end result could have been worse, but Matt Wieters grounds into a double play in the next at bat bringing a run in the back door. Another single, this time from Jim Thome, serves to make it 3-0, but still, it could have been much worse.
Red Sox 0, Orioles 0, Mid 1st -- Joe Saunders gets through the first inning 1-2-3, but it wasn't exactly the sort of performance that inspires thoughts of no-hitters. The Sox get plenty of contact off the former Diamondback, which should turn into actual offense if it continues. The question is: will they still be in the game after Stewart takes the mound?
The last game of the second to last series is upon us, with Zach Stewart taking the mound in hopes of helping the Sox to dodge a sweep at the hands of the Orioles. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
For the Red Sox, this may well need to be a high scoring lineup given how Zach Stewart looked in his last exposure to major league hitting, when he was drubbed for nine runs against the Angels. The problem is that on its best days this linuep doesn't score nine, even with Jacoby Ellsbury back.
The good news is that if they don't score and Zach Stewart doesn't improve, it's just another game of pressure on the Yankees. Ah the intricacies of the pennant races.
Boston Red Sox (69-89)
Baltimore Orioles (91-67)
Red Sox close out their three-game series Sunday at Camden Yards.
The Red Sox fell to the Orioles 4-3 Saturday night despite another double digit strikeout effort from Felix Doubront.
Coming off perhaps his best start of the year, Doubront could not keep the Orioles down for long, but it was more defense that cost him than anything else. His own fielding blunder cost him a one-out baserunner in the second and allowed the Orioles to score an opening run they other wise would not have. In the fourth, too, an error from Mike Aviles gave the Orioles an extra run when Doubront surrendered a homer to Chris Davis to make it 3-0 where it could have been 1-0.
The Red Sox would get back in the game in a hurry, however, thanks to their own two-run shot. Jarrod Saltalamacchia did the honors, picking up bomb number 25 of the season and bringing home Mauro Gomez in the process to make it 3-2. One inning later, and the Sox were manufacturing a run following Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff single, tying the game up.
The lead did not last long. While Doubront was able to escape the sixth unharmed, he could not get past the first batter of the seventh without giving up the lead. This time it was Manny Machado going deep to left, once again on an outside fastball that somehow ended up hooked with authority.
All-in-all, it was a tremendous effort from Doubront, who finished the night with 10 strikeouts to seven hits and one walk. While he ended up surrendering four runs in seven innings, only three were earned, and it can be argued that only two should be.
Still, in the end it was just too much for a terribly weak Red Sox lineup to overcome. The Orioles bullpen finished the job, and the Red Sox fell once more.
The Red Sox are out to even up their series against the Orioles at one-a-piece Saturday night, whether you like it or not.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Orioles 4, Red Sox 3, Mid 8th -- Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day get the job done in the eighth, though the latter gets lucky when Dustin Pedroia's line drive finds its way right into Manny Machado's glove at third for the final out.
Orioles 4, Red Sox 3, End 7th -- Just three pitches into the inning, and Manny Machado somehow manages to hook an outside fastball with enough power to clear the wall in left. The solo shot makes it 4-3, and while Doubront manages to keep runs out despite facing some more trouble in the inning--he actually manages to strike out the side--all it takes is the one run.
Red Sox 3, Orioles 3, Mid 7th -- A two-out single from Pedro Ciriaco is all the Sox get in the seventh as this game gets into the later innings still locked in a tie.
Red Sox 3, Orioles 3, End 6th -- Having been granted the lead, Doubront holds it, not letting a two-out single unsettle him after starting the inning with a pair of strikeouts. He's got seven to his name now through six.
Red Sox 3, Orioles 3, Mid 6th -- And just like that, the Sox pull into a tie. Jacoby Ellsbury leads off the inning with a single, and while we all know what a threat Ellsbury can be on the basepaths, the Orioles don't even challenge him, as Johnson walks Scott Podsednik behind him to move the speedy centerfielder to second and chase Johnson from the game. Ellsbury advances on to third on a Dustin Pedroia fielder's choice ground ball, and then comes in to score the tying run on a sacrifice fly, making it three-a-side.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 2, End 5th -- The Orioles try to manufacture a run after a leadoff single from Lew Ford, but can't quite get that last push to get him across the plate. Doubront's been good about bouncing back from his troubled innings of late. Perhaps there's more of the same in store tonight.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 2, Mid 5th -- And right on cue, Jarrod Saltalamacchia responds! It comes before Steve Johnson can so much as record an out in the fifth. A walk to Mauro Gomez sets up Boston's slugging catcher, and when Johnson delivers a straight fastball, it's all over. Salty turns on the pitch, and lifts a no-doubter to the very back rows in right field to bring the Sox back within one.
Orioles 3, Red Sox 0, End 4th -- And right on cue...It's a two-run dinger that does the damage to Doubront, though he cannot be blamed for that entirely. He's certainly the one who made the pitch to Chris Davis, but it should have come with the bases empty. Instead, because of a high throw from Mike Aviles on a first-pitch ground ball from Adam Jones earlier in the inning, there's a man on first, making it 3-0 instead of 2-0.
Orioles 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- The Sox are doing a bang-up job of wasting baserunners. A one-out single from Dustin Pedroia off of Steve Johnson is erased immediately by a Cody Ross double play in this most recent installment of offensive mediocrity.
Orioles 1, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- Two more strikeouts mark the third inning. Still, it's taking him lots of pitches, and with 50 fast approaching, we're solidly in the danger area.
Orioles 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- Two baserunners in the second? Steve Johnson makes good by going back to his usual 1-2-3 stuff, not allowing a ball to so much as leave the infield, and striking out Jacoby Ellsbury for a second time to end the frame.
Orioles 1, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- Felix Doubront's own fielding costs him a run in the second inning. After surrendering his first baserunner of the game by plunking Chris Davis with one out, Doubront can't make the play on a weak ground ball hit by Mark Reynolds wide of the third base side of the mound, and then gives up a single up the middle to bring the run home. Jacoby Ellsbury manages to throw out Reynolds at third, but the damage is already done against Doubront.
Red Sox 0, Orioles 0, Mid 2nd -- When you do get baserunners against a guy who's locked in like Johnson, it's imperative not to waste them. So much for that. A leadoff hit by Cody Ross is squandered when Jarrod Saltalamacchia can't make contact on an apparent hit-and-run, leaving him dead meat at second, and when Salty draws the walk, Ryan Lavarnway manages only a pop-up into foul territory, stranding him at first.
Red Sox 0, Orioles 0, End 1st -- Felix Doubront could really use an excellent outing tonight. It's his last start of the year, and if he gets it right, it could go a long way towards getting him a position in Boston's starting rotation for 2013. He wore down big time as the year went on, yes, but he was exceptional in his last game, and another good one might help drive that home. He certainly starts off on the right foot, getting a 1-2-3 inning of his own, and striking out Adam Jones to close it out.
Red Sox 0, Orioles 0, Mid 1st -- Steve Johnson does not give up many baserunners. So far, he's staying true to form. Jacoby Ellsbury is welcomed back into the lineup with a strikeout that starts a 1-2-3 first inning off. The Sox have their work cut out for them if they don't want to repeat on his list of victims.
The Orioles took the first game of their series against the Red Sox in incredibly quick fashion as Chris Tillman one-hit the Red Sox in a 9-1 blowout that came in well under three hours.
The Sox, surprisingly, would strike first. Scott Podsednik, the first batter of the game, would single on a bunt ground ball. Keep in mind that it was a bunt, we'll come back to that later. Either way, Podsednik made it to second on an error, third on a sacrifice bunt, and then home on a Dustin Pedroia sacrifice fly to put the Sox ahead 1-0.
It was all dramatically downhill from there. Aaron Cook gave up a leadoff hit, a two-run homer, and then after getting two outs in the first, proceeded to load the bases and surrender a grand slam to Ryan Flaherty. Just like that the game went from 1-0 in favor of the Red Sox to 6-1 Orioles.
Christ Tillman, meanwhile, went full-on dominant against the Red Sox lineup. He'd allow a walk in the third, another in the fourth...and that was it. No runs, no hits, no nothing. Whether he knew it or not, Scott Podsednik's bunt single broke up a no-hitter.
The other side of that, of course, is that there was no coming back for the Red Sox, and sure enough that was the case. Alfredo Aceves coughed up a few more in the middle innings, but it was all extracurricular by that point, with the Orioles already having established a lead that was not to be broken.
Orioles 9, Red Sox 1, Mid 8th -- Ryan Lavarnway at least gives a fly ball a ride, but it's classic warning track power stuff, and leaves not a blip in Chris Tillman's eighth inning of work.
Orioles 9, Red Sox 1, End 7th -- Jim Thome's bat continues to go strong as he picks up another hit to lead off the seventh, but Beato is able to keep his record clean with a double play ball and a strikeout against Manny Machado. At least the bullpen is still intact?
Orioles 9, Red Sox 1, Mid 7th -- 21 outs down, six to go...
Orioles 9, Red Sox 1, End 6th -- Pedro Beato adds a scoreless sixth to his resume. He's an obscure option in the pen, but one that could provide interesting depth in 2013.
Orioles 9, Red Sox 1, Mid 6th -- Boston's contractually obligated inning ends 1-2-3. They have three more contractually obligated innings to go before they can put this one in the books, and then 45 more before the season is well and done with. They can't go by fast enough.
Orioles 9, Red Sox 1, End 5th -- Spoke too soon. After getting two quick outs, Aceves gives up big time contact in four straight at bats. The first three result in doubles to the wall, and Taylor Teagarden finishes the three-run assault with an RBI single. Pedro Beato finished the frame off, and now it's up to him to eat some outs.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, Mid 5th -- The Sox' ineptitude since the first continues, with strikeouts from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Daniel Nava highlighting Tillman's fourth straight scoreless frame of work.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, End 4th -- Had this come earlier in the season, and had he not already burned every bridge available to him, Aceves might be in the process of making a case for a starting role. Another scoreless inning of work makes him look awfully good in contrast to Aaron Cook. Add in that he's done it on just 36 pitches, and at least this has been impressive coming from the Sox' side of things.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, Mid 4th -- Dustin Pedroi, like Nava before him, provides a walk for the Red Sox. Unlike Nava, however, he is simply left stranded, rather than being erased in a double play. Not sure if that counts as progress...
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, End 3rd -- Alfredo Aceves lets Jim Thome reach third base in a hurry on a single, error, and balk. He manages to hold him there, however, striking out Manny Machado in the process.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, Mid 3rd -- Daniel Nava does manage to at least get the Sox a baserunner, drawing one of those walks he was becoming known for before the long injury-related slump, but it only serves to set up an inning-ending double play from Scott Podsednik.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, End 2nd -- Aaron Cook is chased from the game after two straight baserunners reach to start the inning on walks, but Alfredo Aceves manages to escape unharmed by doing what Cook was supposed to: inducing ground balls. The first earns him two outs, and the second gets a third to end the inning.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, Mid 2nd -- The Red Sox respond to the six-run outburst by going quietly in order in the second. Oh, Red Sox, go quietly into that good night.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 1, End 1st -- So much for small ball. The Orioles respond by absolutely wrecking Aaron Cook using a completely different approach. Though the Orioles also start with the leadoff single on a ground ball up the middle, it's a home run that follows, not a bunt. The shot off the bat of Chris Davis comes with one out, and clears the right field wall by a mile, leaving no doubt as to its destination.
Cook manages to get his second out immediately thereafter, but Jim Thome goes to the opposite field, thwarting the shift, Mark Reynolds draws a walk, and Manny Machado singles to load the bases for Ryan Flaherty. The left-handed second baseman gets a sinker low-and-in, cleans it out, and rounds the bases as his grand slam drops in the same place as Chris Davis'. One inning in, and this one is already pretty much over.
Red Sox 1, Orioles 0, Mid 1st -- An early lead for the Red Sox requires just a single as the team plays some small ball. After Scott Podsednik provided said single and moved to second on an error, he was bunted over to third with just the one out and then scored on a Dustin Pedroia sacrifice fly. That's about the only way this bunch can score runs this month, but a run is a run.
The Red Sox will start their second-to-last series of the year Friday night as they take on the Orioles in Camden Yards. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. EST with broadcast s on NESN and WEEI.
The Red Sox lineup is the usual, lacking Jacoby Ellsbury and everyone else who's found themselves injured leading up to this point. The Orioles are the ones with a more interesting change tonight, as Taylor Teagarden takes over behind the plate for Matt Wieters.
The reason for Wieters' absence is a happy one, however: he's a new father! Wife Maria Wieters delivered the couple's first child, Maverick Luther Wieters, in the early hours of Friday morning.
If you're going to miss a game, I can think of few better reasons.
Boston Red Sox (69-87)
Baltimore Orioles (89-67)
The Red Sox are off to finish out their final stretch of six games, starting with three against the Baltimore Orioles.
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