In a season filled with disappointments, Sunday’s may well have been the toughest loss so far for the 2014 Red Sox, who overcame a 5 run deficit in the 7th inning only to lose to the Orioles in extra innings. And with Sunday night’s win by the Rays, the Red Sox are now officially in last place in the American League East.
Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy gave a solid performance, working out of trouble from time to time, and ultimately allowing two runs, one earned, the other on a throwing error by Xander Bogaerts. In all, Peavy went 6.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3.
Peavy’s teammates, meanwhile, lived up to expectations, particularly when he’s on the mound. He entered the game with an average of 3.01 runs of support per outing, the 2nd-lowest rate among qualifying American League pitchers. When he left the game he was in sole possession of the top spot for that dubious record.
After Peavy left the game things got interesting. The Orioles were leading 2-0, but the lead was cut in half when David Ortiz stroked one of his four hits for the day.
Burke Badenhop, once so reliable, entered in the top of the 7th and promptly gave up three straight singles to Pearce, Jones, and Cruz. After an out, Manager Farrell went to Junichi Tazawa, once so reliable, who just as promptly allowed three straight singles to Hardy, Machado, and Flaherty. It was now 6-1 and on the way to what looked like a sure Red Sox loss.
But the bottom of the 7th inning brought back memories of that old Red Sox magic. With one out David Ross launched his 5th home run of the season. Too little, too late, you could be forgiven for thinking. But then Jackie Bradley singled. Orioles manager Showalter had seen enough and called Ryan Webb in to pitch. He gave up a run-scoring single to Bogaerts, then a single (and a steal) by Brock Holt, and a single by Nava that brought Bogaerts around to score.
It was 6-4. The crowd got back into it. Showalter moved on to Brian Mutusz to face David Ortiz and why not? Big Papi is 1-for-22 against the specialist. But it didn’t work. Ortiz scorched a ball into right and another run scored. The Orioles tried their luck with pitcher Tommy Hunter but Mike Napoli responded with another single, and lo and behold, a tie game!
A tie game and there we stayed for four more innings. Andrew Miller for the 8th inning, Koji Uehara for the 9th and the 10th. Both excellent. But in the back of your mind there was a nagging concern: If the Red Sox don’t score and end this thing already, sooner or later, Edward Mujica will come into the game.
In the 11th, it happened. Farrell called on Mujica who worked the Orioles 1-2-3.
— Red Sox Nation Stats (@RSNStats) July 6, 2014
In the top of the 12th, well, not so much. Mujica, a reliever against whom opponents are hitting .303, allowed a lead off triple by weak-hitting Oriole David Lough. Then a single to Hardy before Farrell brought out the hook, but the damage was done.
— Red Sox Nation Stats (@RSNStats) July 6, 2014
In the bottom of the 12th David Ortiz knocked in his fourth hit of the day but was out by a mile trying to stretch it into a double.
Odds and ends from the game
Despite the throwing error that resulted in an Orioles run, Xander Bogaerts emerged from an 0-for-27 streak that began June 24 and mustered two hits with an RBI. It was his first multi-hit game since June 7.
After home runs in back-to-back games of Saturday’s doubleheader, Stephen Drew mustered no offense whatsoever on Sunday. He ended the day going 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts, two of those coming in the 7th inning, while the rest of the team exploded for 7 hits, the club’s most in any inning since June 27, 2013.
David Ortiz’ double in the fourth inning was his 1,708th hit as a member of the Red Sox. That allowed him to pass Harry Hooper and move into sole possession of No. 7 on the club’s all-time hit list. He’ll need 334 more to catch Bobby Doerr at No. 6 on the list. Carl Yastrzemski is the club leader with 3,419.
Speaking of Yastrzemski, his grandson Mike hit for the cycle Saturday for the Orioles Class-A affiliate, Frederick Keys.
Love the deal, if not the player
Fans understandably deride Orioles’ Nelson Cruz for his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. But he served his 50-game sentence and what can’t be denied is that the Orioles made a shrewd acquisition when they picked him up. You might recall that, like Stephen Drew, Cruz passed on a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Rangers after 2013. But, also like Drew, he couldn’t get a job and the Orioles pounced on an opportunity to sign him to a 1 year deal for just $8 million.
Cruz has responded by putting together a stellar season so far with 27 home runs through 86 games. His 27 homers are now the 3rd-most in Orioles history before the All-Star break behind Chris Davis (37 in 2013), Brady Anderson (30 in 1996).
Saturday night was a remarkable game for Cruz, joining Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx (May 1, 1929) and Ty Cobb (July 17, 1922) as the only visiting players to collect five hits, a home run, and a steal in a game at Fenway Park.
Cruz became just the 96th player in the long history of Fenway to belt out 5 hits in a 9-inning game, the first player to do so since teammate JJ Hardy on May 6, 2012. The last Red Sox player to achieve this was Victor Martinez on June 1, 2010. Four Red Sox players have done it twice: Johnny Pesky, Johnny Damon, Billy Goodman, and Dustin Pedroia.
Can’t overlook Bradley’s day
It’s not in the boxscore like his 2 hits and a walk on Sunday but it would be practically criminal to overlook Sunday’s outstanding defensive performance by Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. Not once, but twice, he made plays that can justifiably be called spectacular.
First, Bradley picked up his MLB-best 5th double play turned as a Center Fielder this season with an incredible throw to the plate in the top of the 7th to gun down Oriole Manny Machado. His 5 double plays so far this season are the most by a major league rookie since J.D. Drew had 6 for the Cardinals in 1999.
The play was Bradley’s 10th outfield assist, tied with Athletics Yoenis Céspedes and Indians Michael Brantley for the most in baseball. Pretty good company for the rookie.
At the time, an @RSNStats follower on Twitter asked what the record is for double plays turned by a Center Fielder and the answer is a little bit complicated. In a nutshell, the most double plays turned by an outfielder in a single season is 14 by the White Sox Happy Felsch in 1919. Red Sox great Tris Speaker turned the 2nd most (12) in the 1914 season. Notice I’m talking about double plays by an outfielder and not a center fielder. That’s because baseball data really didn’t differential these roles until 1954.
So, Bradley saves a run by catching Machado in spectacular fashion as he tried to score in the 7th. But he wasn’t done. In the top of the 9th Bradley makes a leaping catch shy of the center field wall to rob Machado again, this time of extra bases and perhaps even another Orioles run. Bradley’s catch was so good (and I urge you to find it somewhere if you didn’t see it), that I kept rewinding and watching it again.
For those who’ve said Bradley’s not ready for the major leagues, I say “pfft!” Defense—even superlative defense—is not enough, but Bradley’s bat is coming around. Including Sunday’s game he’s recorded a hit in 10 of his last 13 games going 13-for-44 (.295) in that time. He’s also showing critical patience at the plate, drawing a walk Sunday on an 11-pitch at-bat, the longest plate appearance of his career. Give him more time. I’m convinced he’s worth it.