In a game that seemed lopsided, chaotic, and sloppy, the Red Sox showed fight but flaws in what was ultimately a 10-9 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park Thursday.
For most of the game, it was a dark dawn for the Red Sox on Opening Day.
By the fourth inning, boos had already showered down on this new-look team, one seeking redemption after a fifth last-place finish in 11 years last season.
“Today’s Day 1,” manager Alex Cora said before the game. “We feel like we did a lot of stuff in spring training that is going to translate to the season.”
Yet this game was much of the same old Red Sox that had fans checked out once last September rolled around.
The Sox turned around their misfortune when they scored five runs in the last two innings, but with two outs and a runner on second base, Adam Duvall struck out to end it.
The Red Sox tallied 11 hits, but they had too much to overcome following the pitching staff’s nine walks, tied for the most ever in a Sox opener, also occurring in 1926 and 1966.
“There were too many walks,” Cora said. “A lot of traffic [on the bases]. We have to be better than that.”
In his Red Sox debut, Corey Kluber put together a forgettable outing, lasting just 3⅓ innings, allowing six hits, including two homers. He was touched for five runs and walked four batters. Kluber had one start last year with the Rays in which he walked four. That also was in his first outing of the season, which happened to be against the Orioles.
“I’d rather them beat me by earning it and me not just handing them free passes,” said Kluber. “I wish I would have done that today, but I just have to make adjustments for next time and hopefully do better.”
Adley Rutschman didn’t waste any time getting the Orioles on the board, parking a solo shot into the right-field stands in the first inning. The Red Sox appeared to have some life in the bottom of the frame when Alex Verdugo struck a leadoff triple off the Green Monster in left-center and scored on Rafael Devers’s ground out.
But the Orioles scored four in the fourth and three in the fifth.
Kluber allowed a leadoff walk to Gunnar Henderson in the third. The next batter, Ramon Urias, banged a tape-measure two-run shot to left.
Later in the inning, Kluber walked the bases loaded, and that’s when the Sox hit the cellar.
Cora summoned Zack Kelly from the bullpen, and his outing went as such: wild pitch (run scored), walk, strikeout, walk (run scored), strikeout.
The bullpen door flung open for Ryan Brasier in the sixth. His outing, if you can follow: hit batsman, double play ball, walk, stolen base, RBI single, stolen base, wild pitch, walk, stolen base, RBI single, line out to center. That made it 8-2 for the Orioles.
“You want to come into Day 1 and have a good start,” Brasier said. “But walking three people, even if you give up no runs, it just can’t happen.”
The stolen bases were alarming, too. The Orioles had five, three off Brasier. The righthander is slow to the plate, and when the pitch clock got down to five seconds, the base runners felt comfortable taking off, knowing Brasier needed that time to get his motion going toward home plate.
“I picked over once and they went on the next pitch,” Brasier said. “I slide-stepped on a pitch and then they [stole] on the next pitch. It was just one of those things.”
Still, the Sox had a chance to steal this game. The top of their lineup, Their first four batters, Verdugo, Devers, Justin Turner, and Masataka Yoshida, each had two hits. But the pitching woes were a little too much to overcome.
“It wasn’t a great game,” Cora said. “The score is what it is. We were one swing away from winning this. But overall there’s a lot of stuff that we saw today that we didn’t do.”