Live Blog: Orioles at Red Sox


Jul 26, 2009

Live Blog: Orioles at Red SoxTo sweep the Orioles this weekend, all the Red Sox needed was for John Smoltz to stay composed and steer clear of a big early-game rally. It didn't happen.

Smoltz let the Orioles on the board in the first inning and watched
them rally for three more in the third, as Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold
and Ty Wigginton rattled off three straight hits for the visiting
Orioles. The Sox' hurler finished with six runs, all earned, on nine
hits and one walk in five innings. He struck out six.

Orioles rookie David Hernandez, on the other hand, put in a stellar day
of work against the Sox' bats, carrying a perfect game into the fourth
inning and a shutout into the fifth. The 24-year-old allowed five hits
and zero walks in a superb Sunday afternoon — he emerged with the decision in the 6-2 Baltimore win.

The loss for the Red Sox snapped an impressive streak of 11 straight
victories over the last-place Orioles, a run dating back to the middle
of the 2008 season. Smoltz, the first Red Sox pitcher to lose to
Baltimore in 2009, falls to 1-4 with another troubling outing. There is
now serious cause for concern in Boston about the future of the
42-year-old hurler.

Final: Orioles 6, Red Sox 2.

Realizing that he hasn't used his closer in four days, Trembley turns to George Sherrill
to pitch the ninth inning in a non-save situation. The Sox send their
5-6-7 hitters to the plate to face Sherrilll, and with three straight
flyouts, they go down without a fight. Count it — 21 saves now on the
season for Sherrill.

Middle 9th, 6-2 O's: Francona sticks with Saito to pitch the
ninth, but that experiment doesn't work out. Saito issues back-to-back
walks with one out, and Tito's forced to go to his bullpen again — he
gets Ramon Ramirez to finish off the Orioles in the top of the ninth. He does.

End 8th, 6-2 O's: Dave Trembley goes with Jim Johnson,
the 26-year-old righty, to replace Hernandez in the bottom of the
eighth. Johnson starts things off by walking Kottaras (after Hernandez
had issued zero free passes in seven innings), and Pedroia doubles to
deep center to score Kottaras. So the Sox get one run back — but
they're going to need a lot more than one to have a shot. It's a 6-2
ballgame, and the Orioles are three outs away from dodging a sweep and
finally winning a game at Fenway.

Middle 8th, 6-1 O's: Tito opts to give Takashi Saito some
work in the eighth — like Smoltz and Masterson, Saito is pitching for
the first time since Monday night. Saito lets Nolan Reimold reach on an
infield single and then steal second, but he retires the side from
there, stranding the Orioles' DH at second base.

Worth noting: Reimold is now 7-for-10 in this series, with three doubles. Have we found a new Red Sox killer?

Boston will send the 9-1-2 batters to the plate in the bottom of the eighth — which might mean a pinch-hitter for George Kottaras to lead things off. Mike Lowell, anyone?

End 7th, 6-1 O's: After only 90 pitches, Hernandez sticks around
to pitch the seventh. And why not? He's been superb this afternoon.
Hernandez gets the first two outs with ease, and after an Adam LaRoche
single, he gets Lowrie to line one to Markakis in right for the third
out. All in all, a great outing for the Orioles' rookie hurler.

Middle 7th, 6-1 O's: Lightning-quick seventh inning for
Masterson — six pitches is all he needs. Pie grounds out, Jones lines
out, Markakis grounds out. Smooth and painless.

End 6th, 6-1 O's: Ellsbury gets his second hit of the game
against Hernandez — this time, it's an opposite-field single to left
— but again, the Sox leave him stranded. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis fly out, and Papi then pops one out to short to end the inning with Ellsbury on first.

Middle 6th, 6-1 O's: Smoltz's afternoon is indeed done after five innings of work — Justin Masterson enters to relieve him, making his first appearance since Monday in Texas. (That was also in relief of Smoltz.)

Masterson does issue a four-pitch walk to Gregg Zaun and later gives him second base on a wild pitch, but two strikeouts (Andino swinging, Roberts swinging) get him out of the inning. Not bad.

The Sox will send the top of their order to the plate in the bottom of the sixth — they had better start scoring runs now, and fast.

End 5th, 6-1 O's: The Sox finally get something going against
the rookie Hernandez, as Drew and LaRoche manage back-to-back hits with
one out and Jed Lowrie then hits one deep to the warning track in right
field. It's more than deep enough for a sac fly to score Drew, so the
Red Sox are finally on the board here in the fifth inning.

Middle 5th, 6-0 O's: Smoltz has just allowed his fourth home run
this week, a one-out bomb into the right field bullpen from Nick
Markakis. Smoltz gets out of the fifth without any further damage, but
it would be surprising at this point to see him come back out for the
sixth. The O's have been jumping all over the Sox' right-hander today.

End 4th, 5-0 O's: The Red Sox finally have a baserunner — it's
Jacoby Ellsbury, who bounces one off the second-base bag with a
grounder up the middle. The Sox get their first hit, but not their
first run — Hernandez gets out of the inning via three straight
flyouts, one to Pie in left field and two to Jones in center.

Middle 4th, 5-0 O's: Another two-out run for the Orioles, who
start things with a Brian Roberts single and then plate him via a Felix
Pie double to left-center. To Smoltz's credit, though, he makes a nice
play to cut off the throw to the plate, throwing over to third and
catching Pie in a rundown to end the inning.

The other good news on Smoltz is that he's now struck out five Orioles in four innings, including Robert Andino twice.

End 3rd, 4-0 O's: Three more up, three more down. What a start for David Hernandez. Through three innings, he's channeled his inner Mark Buehrle. (Am I allowed to say that? What's the proper protocol for live-bloggers jinxing no-hitters?)

Middle 3rd, 4-0 O's: The breaking ball's not breaking for John
Smoltz, and the Orioles are starting to tee off against him. Roberts
leads off the inning with a single on an 0-2 pitch, and the O's later
pick up three runs on consecutive hits from Markakis, Reimold and Ty Wigginton. It's another big inning against Smoltz, who can't seem to steer clear of the two-out rally.

End 2nd, 1-0 O's: Another 1-2-3 inning for Hernandez, who this time retires David Ortiz, Jason Bay and J.D. Drew in order. Not a bad start for the O's rookie in his first career start at Fenway.

Middle 2nd, 1-0 O's: Melvin Mora bounces one off the wall in
left-center, but Ellsbury plays the ricochet perfectly, making for a
close play at second base when Mora goes for the double. He beats the
tag with a nice slide, putting a man in scoring position with one out,
but Smoltz escapes the inning with a flyout and a strikeout from the
O's eight and nine hitters.

End 1st, 1-0 O's: A 1-2-3 inning for David Hernandez in the first, but not an uneventful one. Melvin Mora turns
a routine foul pop-up to the left side into a diving catch, misjudging
it and charging in about four steps too far. He doubles back as the
ball comes down to earth, and he ends up nicely snow-coning it for the
final out of the first. Down goes Kevin Youkilis.

Middle 1st, 1-0 O's: We're underway, and the Orioles have gotten on the board first. Brian Roberts wears
Smoltz down with a nine-pitch walk, earning his way aboard, and when
Felix Pie singles to right, an alert Roberts goes all the way to third.

Nick Markakis lofts one to center field, not too deep and not too shallow, and Jacoby Ellsbury gets under it raring to throw home. But Roberts gets a nice jump and appears headed home easily, so Ellsbury gives up and hits his cutoff man while the Orioles plate their first run. Tough break for Smoltz, who ends up needing 25 pitches to get out of the first — he eventually does so with a swinging strikeout of Nolan Reimold.

1:15 p.m.: Some lineup notes for you this afternoon: The Red Sox
will keep the corner infielder merry-go-round moving for the series
finale, giving Mike Lowell the afternoon off while Adam LaRoche stays at first base and Kevin Youkilis goes back to third.

Jed Lowrie goes back into the lineup as the Sox' shortstop, and Jason Varitek gets the day off as Terry Francona opts to give George Kottaras the start behind the plate.

For the Orioles, Felix Pie is back in the lineup to play left field and bat second, leaving Nolan Reimold off the field as the Baltimore DH. Robert Andino gets a rare start at shortstop; he will bat ninth while Cesar Izturis enjoys a Sunday afternoon off.

11:00 a.m.: The Red Sox have had their way with the Baltimore Orioles over the past
two seasons, and the events of weekend have done nothing to reverse
that trend.

The Sox took the first two games of their weekend series with the last-place O's, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Brad Penny and Jon Lester on the mound. When they go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon, they'll send John Smoltz to the mound to face off against rookie David Hernandez.

The Sox have won their last 11 meetings with Baltimore, a streak dating back to the middle of last season. Smoltz has struggled so far in a Red Sox uniform, but at home against these Orioles, he's may be able to turn things around. Stay tuned.

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