Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red Sox escape with 7-6 victory over O's

At some point, the Orioles will stop losing games like this and luck their way into a few wins. But right now, with the way things are going, that just doesn't seem possible.

Ahead 3-1, the O's allowed six runs in the bottom of the seventh and couldn't quite complete a valiant comeback attempt in the ninth in a 7-6 loss to the Red Sox. Despite accumulating 10 hits and two walks in seven innings against starter John Lackey, the O's could only put together three runs, yet again missing opportunities to add to their two-run lead.

The O's ended up with six runs -- but they did amass 17 hits and two walks. Hitters two through eight -- Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Miguel Tejada, Matt Wieters, Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton, and rookie Rhyne Hughes (appearing in his first career game) -- all had multi-hit games. Markakis also had both of the O's walks; Wigginton and Jones each hit solo homers; and Wigginton had four hits and Scott had three. The O's definitely put the bat on the ball and even went 5-15 with runners in scoring position -- a major improvement.

Still, the bullpen wasted a strong start by Brian Matusz -- 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 SO, 3 BB, 102 PC -- by allowing those six runs in the seventh. After Matusz allowed two baserunners, he was relieved by Matt Albers, who retired just one batter before giving up a three-run home run to Marco Scutaro. Albers then gave up a double and walked a batter before being relieved by Kam Mickolio, who promptly allowed another three-run homer, this time to Kevin Youkilis. And with that, the damage had been done and the Red Sox were up 7-3.

The O's battled back, though, in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Jones homered and Markakis doubled, knocking Ramon Ramirez out of the game in favor of closer Jonathan Papelbon. Tejada, Wieters, and Scott all followed with singles to cut the lead to one (7-6). Unfortunately, with runners on first and second and just one out, Wigginton and Hughes both struck out swinging to end the game.

The O's certainly showed some heart in the final inning, but it just wasn't enough. Heart alone doesn't win baseball games or David Eckstein would never lose. Winning also requires having a bullpen that won't give up a pair of three-run bombs in the same inning.

And as weird as it is to write, the O's are now 2-16 on the season.


Hughes, by the way, was promoted earlier today and immediately started at first base. To make room for Hughes, the Orioles optioned Justin Turner to Norfolk. It would have been nice to see Turner get some more playing time, but Wigginton (.333/.411/.750) has been on fire at the plate and probably won't start sitting until Brian Roberts returns (whenever that is). Since Hughes is left-handed, the O's may decide to employ a righty/lefty platoon with Garrett Atkins and Hughes at first. With the way Atkins has been hitting, that may not be such a bad idea.

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