BALTIMORE — Because of the oppressive heat, the Red Sox told their players to stay back at the team hotel on Sunday morning until two hours before the start of their game against the Baltimore Orioles.
When the players arrived at Camden Yards, they were wearing beach clothes — sandals, shorts, tank tops and such — to have a little fun on their postgame flight to Florida.
It was good practice for all their vacation days coming in October.
The Sox managed only one hit and were beaten, 5-0, by the Orioles. They dropped two of three against the worst team in baseball, giving up an alarming 22 runs.
It’s further evidence that if the Sox do squeeze into the playoffs, they won’t be there very long.
It was an ugly series. The Sox lost, 11-2, on Friday night and on Sunday were no-hit through six innings by righthander Asher Wojciechowski, a 30-year-old now with his seventh organization.
Wojciechowski came into the game with an 8.09 earned run average in 14 career starts in the majors. But he didn’t come close to allowing a hit until Rafael Devers doubled to right field leading off the seventh.
That little flicker of hope faded when Wojciechowski retired Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi on eight pitches.
Wojciechowski struck out 10 and produced 23 swings and misses. He pitched well but if the Sox had a particular approach in mind against him, it wasn’t evident.
“We weren’t disciplined,” manager Alex Cora said. “Especially righties on the outside part of the plate. He did a good job of keeping us out there and swinging at bad pitches.”
Mookie Betts, Bogaerts and Martinez, those righthanded hitters Cora was talking about, were 0 for 9 against Wojciechowski with five strikeouts.
Betts ended the third inning by missing a two-strike curveball that landed in the lefthanded batters box.
Devers walked through the clubhouse with a scowl after the game.
“Yeah, I’m mad,” he said. “This is a game we should be able to win, especially against a pitcher like that. We’re not getting the job done. That’s what I’m upset about.”
It takes a 22-year-old to tell the truth sometimes. The Sox have a chance to repeat as champions, something no team has done in nearly 20 years, and they’ve treated that opportunity far too casually all season.
The Sox won four in a row before the All-Star break then added to that momentum by beating the Dodgers in the first game back. They are 4-5 since.
“It’s just frustrating knowing that’s not the kind of team that we have,” Devers said. “We have to do a better job.”
Red Sox pitching allowed 21 earned runs over 25 innings against the Orioles. Andrew Cashner thought he pitched well on Sunday, allowing four runs over six innings against his former teammates.
“Made two mistakes,” he said, referencing two home runs hit by Trey Mancini.
It was a low-risk deal when the Sox obtained Cashner from the Orioles on July 13. Baltimore agreed to pick up all but $1.5 million of his remaining salary and took back two 17-year-old prospects from the Dominican Summer League.
It’s been low risk and low reward so far. Cashner is 0-2 with the Sox, allowing 10 earned runs over 11 innings.
When Cashner allowed six runs in five innings against the Blue Jays last week, the Sox blamed a 10-day layoff caused in part by the All-Star break. On Sunday, he mentioned how odd it was to be facing old teammates so soon after the trade.
There are no excuses left. Cashner’s next start will come against the Yankees. It’s part of a test that will define the remainder of the season for the Sox.
Starting Monday night at wonderfully air-conditioned Tropicana Field, the Sox will play the first of 14 consecutive games against the second-place Rays and first-place Yankees.
“We have to turn the page, we know what starts tomorrow,” Cora said.
The Rays are one of the teams ahead of the Sox in the wild-card race. Maybe that will cause some urgency.
“Obviously everybody knows where we’re at,” Brock Holt said. “This is a big two weeks for us. We have to play well. We were on the verge of getting no-hit today. We have to play better and start winning games.”
Devers left Camden Yards wearing shorts and a floppy hat. He played along with the theme. But he wasn’t smiling.
“We’re just as good as the teams ahead of us,” he said. “We have to start showing it.”