Thursday was a night of missed chances for the Orioles, both within their one-game visit to Fenway Park and what the matchup meant to the playoff race they surprisingly find themselves in.
The 4-3 defeat to the Boston Red Sox saw Baltimore waste several scoring opportunities while also missing the chance to gain ground in the postseason picture on a day many of their tightest competitors were dormant.
A victory would have given the Orioles (58-53) sole possession of the American League’s third wild-card spot, having entered the day tied with the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, they not only lost to a Boston team trying to make its way back into the playoff mix, but also dropped half a game of ground to the current three wild-card teams: the Toronto Blue Jays, the Seattle Mariners and the Rays.
They went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and Eric Hosmer’s sixth-inning RBI double off Nick Vespi, who inherited a runner from starter Dean Kremer, proved to be decisive.
Thursday’s singular game in Boston marks the start of a seven-game road trip during which the Orioles will play three-game series against Tampa Bay and Toronto. This game was originally scheduled for the first week of the season but was reshuffled after the MLB lockout postponed each team’s first two series.
RISP, but no reward
Baltimore fell behind early Thursday as the Red Sox (54-58) hit Kremer hard in the first few innings as Boston built a 3-0 lead after three. The Orioles had put runners on the corners in the top of the first, but rookie infielder Terrin Vavra struck out looking, with all three strikes being called and at least two being in off the plate.
Vavra singled in the fourth to put two on for Austin Hays, who then grounded into an inning-ending double play. As the Orioles had their offensive struggles, Kremer settled in, retiring nine of 10 Red Sox to get through the fifth.
That gave the Orioles the chance to break through in the sixth. Cedric Mullins singled to open the frame, improving his August batting average to .343. Rookie sensation Adley Rutschman then drew a walk, becoming the first Oriole with 11 free passes in a seven-game span since Brady Anderson in 2000.
After neither Anthony Santander nor Ryan Mountcastle came through, Vavra lashed a two-run triple down the right field line. In his first 10 plate appearances with a runner in scoring position, Vavra is hitting .625 with a 1.600 OPS. He then scored the tying run when Hays reached on an infield single.
Jorge Mateo singled in the top of the seventh and stole his AL-leading 27th base, one off the major league lead, but was left at third base when Rutschman struck out looking.
Around the horn
>> Originally scheduled to start Thursday’s game before Wednesday’s rainout, Austin Voth will instead open Friday’s series opener against the Rays. The Orioles have listed their starters for Saturday and Sunday as TBA. Spenser Watkins and Jordan Lyles would be on turn to pitch.
This story will be updated.
Friday, 7:10 p.m.
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