BALTIMORE — Xander Bogaerts reached his breaking point.
In a season that has shouldered inconsistent and, at times, abysmal play by the Red Sox, it all came to the surface for the Red Sox shortstop Friday evening at Camden Yards.
With two outs in the top of the fourth inning and the Orioles leading, 6-4, Bogaerts took a called third strike on a pitch that appeared below the zone. Bogaerts flung his bat in disgust and began jawing at Tichenor. Cora ran out of the dugout to protect his shortstop, then began arguing the call, which led to his ejection.
While the pitch was certainly a ball, Bogaerts’s reaction was undoubtedly uncharacteristic. It was just his second career ejection. The other was Aug. 31, 2018 against the White Sox.
The timing in which the Bogaerts reaction and ejection occurred — still a two-run ballgame and the Sox clinging to their postseason life against a now-formidable American League East foe — was, indeed, untimely. But it was also senseless and shortsighted on Bogaerts’s behalf, something that’s atypical for the Sox’ leader.
“I did regret it,” Bogaerts said. “It’s a 6-4 game at that point.”
The weight of a sinking season took ownership of Bogaerts. He noted that his protest toward the umpire was a release for him, adding that “it felt good” because he oftentimes suppresses his emotion.
What can’t be suppressed is the Sox’ subsequent 15-10 loss sans Bogaerts. The Red Sox (59-61) failed to gain ground in their pursuit of a wild-card spot after a Rays loss, still remaining five games back.
“It was not a fun night and we ended up losing,” Cora said. “We just got to be ready for tomorrow.”
Early on, the Orioles jumped on starter Kutter Crawford, pummeling the righthander for nine runs — all earned — punctuated by three homers.
With the Red Sox up 2-0 and two outs in the second, Jorge Mateo crushed a hanging curveball off Crawford on the first pitch he saw for a three-run shot, handing the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
A Christian Arroyo RBI groundout against Orioles starter Jordan Lyles, followed by Rob Refsnyder’s run-scoring single, put the Sox back ahead, 4-3.
That quickly changed when Anthony Santander turned on Crawford’s 95 mile per hour fastball for a two-run homer. After a mound visit by pitching coach Dave Bush, Baltimore peppered Crawford for two more hits and a sacrifice fly, stretching its lead to 6-4.
Through three innings, nine of the 14 balls the Orioles put in play had an exit velocity of 92.4 miles per hour or higher.
Acting manager Will Venable tried to get another inning from Crawford, but with two outs in the bottom of the fourth it backfired. Cedric Mullins laced a double to right field to keep the inning alive. Then Adley Rutschman invited himself to the party, depositing his eighth homer of the year and the Orioles’ eighth run of the game.
A single by Santander forced Venable to go to his bullpen early, summoning Hirokazu Sawamura. The Sox righthander quickly surrendered another homer, a two-run shot by Ryan Mountcastle.
Down, 10-4, it felt as if the Sox were on the brink of a blowout. But a five-run fifth highlighted by a Tommy Pham three-run double brought the Sox within one.
It wasn’t enough when the Orioles scored five runs in the home half against Ryan Brasier, highlighted by a Ramon Urias homer. It was just the second time this year the Red Sox allowed five homers in one game and was just one shy of their season-high.
“They hit everything,” Cora said of the Orioles. “Fastballs, cutters, breaking balls, we called it and they hit it. They’re a good club. They’re a really good club, and they have some good hitters over there.”
Despite putting up 10 runs and 19 hits, the Red Sox’ best hitter, Rafael Devers, was hitless, going 0 for 5 and leaving seven men on base. J.D. Martinez was out of the lineup in an effort to hone his swing, which has plagued him for the last two months.
By the fifth, Bogaerts was missing, too.
“It’s definitely frustrating when you hold yourself to a high standard and you feel like you’re not helping out,” Bogaerts said.