Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Red Sox Waste Salty's Clutch Homer, Fall 8-6 To Orioles In 10 Innings
To state the obvious: for the Boston Red Sox to go anywhere this season (which I am certainly not counting on), they desperately need Jon Lester to be much more than he's shown so far in 2012.
The Red Sox (28-27, 13-15 home) wasted a clutch, two-out two-run homer by Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3 hits) in the ninth as they fell 8-6 in 10 innings to the Baltimore Orioles (31-24, 17-11 away) tonight at chilly Fenway Park in the series opener.
Lester went six innings but he allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits with five strikeouts and a walk. By his recently low standards, that was a great outing. It's tough to pin the loss on him, especially since it went into extra innings but it's about time that we started to expect better from the guy that has to be the staff ace.
Orioles starter Jason Hammel only lasted five innings because his pitch count ballooned to 107. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.
It came down to a battle of the bullpens, specifically the closers. Both Jim Johnson (1-0; 1st blown save in 25 chances dating back to last season) and Alfredo Aceves (0-3) worked two innings and allowed a pair of runs but Baltimore had a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth so they had more room for error.
Befitting a game that few watched once the Celtics-Heat started, there were many peculiar elements. First of all, there were 14 runs scored combined but Salty's bomb was the only extra-base hit that produced a run. Everything else was the product of singles and sacrifice flies.
The Orioles cashed in big time with runners on base (8 for 17) while the Red Sox (1 for 8) did not. Out of 26 total hits for both teams, only four were for extra-bases (two doubles, a triple, the home run).
Baltimore had 15 hits led by Endy Chavez (3 hits, 2 runs, RBI). Robert Andino (2 hits, 2 runs), J.J. Hardy (2 hits, RBI), Matt Wieters (2 hits, run, RBI, walk) and Mark Reynolds (2 hits, 2 walks, run, RBI) all had multiple hits in the win.
For Boston, Salty and Mike Aviles (3 hits, run, RBI) helped them to 11 hits. Scott Podsednik (2 hits, RBI, walk) and Daniel Nava (2 runs, 2 hits) also continued to get on base, something which nobody expected consistently from them (especially when they were pressed into the lineup every day).
Baltimore scored first with two runs in the third on RBI singles by Adam Jones and Wieters. Boston tied it in the fifth on an Orioles error and Dustin Pedroia's (first game since last Monday) sacrifice fly.
Steve Pearce (who I've never heard of before now) put the O's back on top with a sacrifice fly in the sixth but the Red Sox responded again with an RBI single by Aviles and Podsednik's sacrifice fly in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead.
Baltimore went ahead with three in the seventh: Hardy, Reynolds and Pearce all had RBI singles. The last two runs were charged to Scott Atchison, who entered on a streak of no earned runs in his last 19 2/3 innings.
Ronny Paulino and Chavez had RBI singles in the 10th against Aceves. Johnson retired Boston 1-2-3 in the 10th.
If we accept all the signs that point to this being a rebuilding year for the Red Sox, the biggest news of the day was that Daniel Bard was sent down to Pawtucket to get his mind and right arm in a better place. Darnell McDonald was called up to take his spot on the roster and it looks like Daisuke Matsuzaka will inherit Bard's spot in the rotation for the time being (beginning with a start Saturday against Washington).
It's all the Red Sox' front office's fault that Bard is a mess that can't throw strikes or get anybody out. Bobby Valentine knew right away in Spring Training that Bard should stay in the bullpen but since he was a new manager, he didn't feel comfortable questioning the move. How'd that work out? Let's all hope that Bard can relax with the PawSox and get back to the player that was a top setup man for three seasons.
Josh Beckett (4-5) opposes Wei-Yin Chen (4-2) tomorrow night (7:10 p.m., NESN) in the middle game of a three game set.