Are the Orioles this good, or are the Red Sox this bad?
The Orioles are 7-0, while the Red Sox are 3-4. The Sox were supposed to be a good home team, but they’ve now lost two games to the Orioles after a 9-5 loss Tuesday night. The Orioles weren’t supposed to be this good.
Their Korean free agent, Hyun-Soo Kim has been somewhat of a bust. Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, however, has hit on veteran slugger Mark Trumbo and Rule V draftee Joey Rickard. The pitching has been better than expected with Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Vance Worley all making decent starts.
If there’s a rap on the pitching, it’s that no Orioles pitcher has gone more than five innings since the opener, which means the bullpen could already be fatigued.
Yes, they hit a lot of home runs — 13 in seven games — and are capable of putting runs up in a hurry. They’ve scored 40 runs in the seven games.
Clay Buchholz continued to be an enigma, allowing five runs and five hits over five innings and two-run homers to JJ Hardy and Trumbo. The Sox bullpen didn’t fare much better as lefty Robbie Ross Jr. was torched by another two-run homer by Hardy.
OK, many of us thought the Orioles would finish last in this division because of their lack of quality starting pitching. It’s only seven games in, but 7-0 is 7-0, the best start by an Orioles team in their history. They have won more games (362) than any team in the American League since 2012.
“I have the best seat in the house,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who sounded like a man who just wants to savor every win. “It’s a hard place to win a game and they’re going to win a lot of games before the summer is over.”
You can’t minimize the lineup the Orioles put out there. There might be a lot of strikeouts between, Trumbo, Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez. Matt Wieters etc., but there’s a lot of production as well. And perhaps their second-best player (behind Manny Machado), Adam Jones has been suffering from a side strain and has been used only as a defensive replacement.
Showalter spoke about how well Trumbo has fit in and that he’s “sincere about the way he goes about things.” He spoke about Hardy’s two Pesky Pole homers and how he tried to convince Hardy that the homers weren’t a joke, that the balls were hit hard enough to go for extra bases in other ballparks.
This same Oriole team was 0-10-2 before they had their first spring training win. They started the year with two of their better pitchers — Kevin Gausman and Brian Matusz — on the disabled list.
And the Red Sox? What are they? They’ve had problems with unsteady performances from their starters, including ace David Price and this was expected by their critics.
Craig Kimbrel blew up Monday and allowed his first three-run homer ever. That came off the bat of Davis, a player who signed a seven-year, $161 million deal in the offseason to stay in Baltimore.
The best Red Sox pitching performance has been by knuckleballer Steven Wright, who pitched 6⅔ innings and allowed one earned run Sunday in a loss to the Blue Jays.
Tuesday, the Sox got a two-run homer from David Ortiz in the first inning and then didn’t score again until they took a 4-2 lead with two runs in the fifth when Mookie Betts drove in a run with a double then scored on a wild pitch.
But the Orioles struck for three in the sixth and four in the seventh to take a 9-4 lead.
The Red Sox offense has been productive, but they have been much quieter lately.
It seems as if Ortiz is doing most of the damage, including Tuesday night with a two-run homer and a run-producing double in the eighth inning to make it a 9-5 game. Blake Swihart stranded the bases loaded in the fourth and then left a runner at third in the sixth. He also botched a foul pop that led to the Orioles’ three-run sixth.
So if your record is what you say you are, the Orioles are pretty perfect, while the Red Sox have some imperfections.
If Buchholz is the No. 2 starter, then the Red Sox aren’t likely in good hands. Buchholz was booed by the fans as he came off the field.
Buchholz said later he didn’t make mistakes on homers to Hardy and Trumbo, that in both cases he got the pitch where he wanted to make.
While nobody really worries about Price, the Red Sox are still waiting to see that dominant guy they paid $217 million for. And while we don’t expect Kimbrel to blow more than a handful of saves, he is getting acclimated to the American League, and who knows how that will go.
The Red Sox will continue to have the Pablo Sandoval problem as long as he’s the forgotten man on the bench. His presence does nothing for Boston’s depth, since John Farrell seems afraid to use him even in pinch-hit situations.
The manager declared Travis Shaw the winner of the third base job and that’s the way it’s going to have to be for a good amount of time. Sandoval has nowhere to go. If he doesn’t play, it seems a waste of $95 million. The Red Sox must find a way to get Sandoval to another team. Benching him really doesn’t work.
The Orioles may not be this good, but right now they are what they are: the only undefeated team in baseball. And the Red Sox are what they are: sub .500 after seven games and two last-place finishes.