Red Sox embarrassed in 9-5 loss to Orioles to end disastrous road trip
The Red Sox have hit a new low point of the 2022 season.
They’ll have to hope this was rock bottom.
Nick Pivetta and the Sox were shellacked by the last-place Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, when they took a 9-5 loss at Camden Yards and dropped a three-game series to finish a disastrous road trip.
It was a more lopsided game than the final score indicated, as the Sox were down 9-1 entering the ninth.
They finished their road trip with a 3-7 record and lost all three series against the Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles. They’ve lost four straight series and are now 1-5-1 through their first seven series of the year.
At 9-14 overall, the Red Sox are a half-game ahead of the Orioles and 7 1/2 games back of the first-place Yankees, who won their ninth straight on Sunday.
“Tough road trip,” manager Alex Cora said. “You have to be genuine and transparent with them. They know it. There’s no rah-rah speeches here. Everyone knows the record, what we went through. But like I’ve been saying, it’s not that far from turning it around.”
1. The offense isn’t looking any better.
On the mound for the Orioles on Sunday was Jordan Lyles, a starting pitcher who is statistically the worst in baseball throughout his big league career. Of the 84 pitchers with at least 1,000 innings since 2011, Lyles’ 5.21 ERA ranks dead last.
Throwing primarily 92-mph fastballs, a changeup and a slider, Lyles carved up a Red Sox’ lineup that looks lost at the plate.
The most concerning issue is and continues to be the over-aggressive approach. They swing at bad pitches 33% of the time, easily the worst chase rate in MLB.
Several times on Sunday they created scoring chances only to blow them with first-pitch swings on bad pitches.
Jackie Bradley Jr. did it in the third inning, when Lyles threw six straight balls, including one that plunked Kiké Hernandez, to load the bases with two outs. Bradley then swung at the first pitch, a changeup below the zone, and grounded out to the first baseman to end the inning.
And Rafael Devers did the same thing in the fourth inning. Lyles walked Trevor Story while finishing the plate appearance with three straight balls. Devers stepped up with two men on and one out, but Devers swung at a first-pitch changeup about six inches off the plate and grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Sox continued to chase Lyles’ slider all afternoon and made it too easy for him as he struck out six over six innings of one-run ball.
“We just didn’t make the adjustments we had to,” manager Alex Cora said. “We chased some pitches. That’s been the story of the offense. Even when we’re ahead in the count or have men in scoring position or have at-bats in our favor, we’re chasing pitches and we have to get better at that.”
2. Pivetta is still searching.
His fastball averaged 93 mph again on Sunday and remains down from his 95 mph average last year. But worse, his signature curveball isn’t getting results.
He held hitters to a .190 average on his biting curve last year, but entering Sunday allowing a .350 average on his hook, which didn’t generate a single swing-and-miss against an Orioles’ lineup considered one of the worst in the majors.
“Regardless of velocity, his fastball is good enough,” Cora said. “The breaking ball, they took advantage of.”
Overall, Pivetta went just 4-1/3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits to push his ERA to 7.84.
“I think the off-day Monday is going to be really important, be with their families, reset, get away from it,” Pivetta told reporters in Baltimore. “All teams go through stretches like this. It’s baseball. Keep grinding through it and make sure you have fun while you’re doing it.”
3. J.D. Martinez had a nice return.
The Sox were down 9-1 entering the ninth inning against Travis Lakins Sr., who was throwing batting practice fastballs, including one right down the middle to Martinez, who smoked it to right field for a grand slam.
Martinez has been on the bench a lot recently as he battles a left adductor strain that has restricted his movement, particularly on the bases. But he returned to the lineup in a big way on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with two singles and the grand slam.
If the Sox offense is going to turn around, it needs someone to step up, and Martinez has played that role before.