BALTIMORE — The Red Sox didn’t take a chance on Wade Miley, they fully committed to him. He was a pitcher they scouted extensively last season, targeted for a trade, and then signed to a three-year extension.
The lefthander was one of the pillars of general manager Ben Cherington’s offseason plan to rebuild the rotation after trading away Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jake Peavy.
Miley was the right age, the right price, and pitched in a style the Sox believed would be successful.
Four starts in, Miley stands as the best example of what has gone so wrong with the pitching staff this season. He could not get through three innings against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, allowing seven runs in a ridiculous 18-7 loss.
Miley at one point missed the strike zone on nine straight pitches. He put six consecutive batters on base before finally being taken out of the game. Miley is 1-2 with an 8.62 earned run average.
“It’s just embarrassing. I know that I’m better than this,” he said. “I didn’t give us a chance at all. I’ve got to do a better job.”
The Red Sox have lost four of five and six of their last nine games. Now 10-9, they start a nine-game homestand Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Red Sox manager John Farrell contained his anger, but just barely.
“We’ve got to do better in all phases of the game and it starts with how we keep the game under control from the mound,” he said. “That wasn’t the case today.”
Miley arrived with a reputation for reliability, having churned through innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks the last three years. He went six or more innings 23 times in 33 starts last season and only once failed to go at least four innings.
With the Red Sox, Miley has been a bullpen killer. He has thrown only 15⅔ innings over four starts and Sunday was the second time he was unable to get through three innings.
Farrell was asked if the Sox are evaluating whether Miley should remain in the rotation. That he didn’t deny that seemed telling.
“We just walked off the field. I don’t have that,” Farrell said.
There’s a day off on Thursday, which would give the Sox the opportunity to skip Miley. The alternative would be starting him against the Yankees on Saturday.
“I’ve got to put it behind me. I’ve got to move into next week and prepare for the next game,” Miley said.
Miley and five relievers allowed 20 hits, six for extra bases. The Orioles scored in six of the eight innings and they batted around twice.
The 18 runs were the most allowed by the Sox since a 20-2 loss at Oakland on Aug. 31, 2012, the final days of Bobby Valentine’s tenure as manager.
“Obviously it got out of control,” Miley said.
The Orioles scored an unearned run in the second inning after center fielder Mookie Betts lost a fly ball in the sun. Then Baltimore scored six runs in the third inning.
With one out and a runner on first base, Everth Cabrera singled. Miley then walked Manny Machado and Adam Jones to force in a run.
“That’s something that can’t happen,” Miley said.
Delmon Young followed with a single to left field. Chris Davis then sent a line drive to center that twisted Betts around and hit off his glove for a two-run double.
Trailing, 5-0, Farrell pulled the infield in and Steve Pearce looped a ball that barely cleared the infield for an RBI single.
Anthony Varvaro started a parade out of the bullpen. Heath Hembree, called up earlier in the day from Triple A Pawtucket, allowed six runs on six hits.
Miley said he feels fine physically, eliminating that as a reason for his struggles.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” he said.
By the end of the game, Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson was holding up runners in the cause of sportsmanship.
Young was 3 for 6 with five RBIs for Baltimore. Davis had three hits, one a home run off Hembree, and three RBIs. Pearce had two hits and three RBIs. Jimmy Paredes continued to hammer the Red Sox with three hits and three RBIs. He had eight hits and seven RBIs in the series.
Every Baltimore starter scored at least one run.
Bud Norris (1-2) went 6⅔ innings for the win, allowing three runs on seven hits. Pablo Sandoval hit his first home run for the Red Sox, a three-run shot in the seventh inning. Hanley Ramirez followed with a solo homer off Jason Garcia.
Ramirez added a three-run homer, again off Garcia, in the ninth inning. He has eight homers and 17 RBIs.
The clubhouse was quiet as the Red Sox prepared for the trip home. Sandoval agreed with Farrell on the idea that the Sox need to get their season fixed.
“Yeah, we can improve. We can work hard,” he said. “Nothing has been going our way. We can’t try to do too much out there. We have to do everything the right way.”