The mastery the Baltimore Orioles hold over the Boston Red Sox continued on Wednesday as the Orioles once again defeated the Red Sox with some late-inning production. This time, however, it took the Orioles a little bit longer to muster up enough offense to finally put away their opponent. It was not until the 12th inning of the contest that the Orioles scored their game-winning runs, improving their win-loss record against the Red Sox this season to 9-6.
Individually, reliever Franklin Morales found himself saddled with the loss, a saddle he helped put on with ineffective pitching in the second inning of his outing. After retiring the first batter of the 12th, Morales ostensibly also retired all semblance of pitching proficiency, allowing the next two Orioles hitters to single against him. Then Morales compounded his own struggles by throwing a wild pitch that gave the Orioles base runners an opportunity to advance, giving the team runners on second and third bases with just one out.
In order to turn an untenable position into a more manageable one, Morales was then asked to intentionally walk the next batter, which loaded the bases and allowed the Red Sox defense the option of getting a force out at any base. By loading the bases, the Red Sox also increased the run expectancy of the Orioles (from 1.49 to 1.66), but manager John Farrell must have felt it was a trade-off worth making.
However, as events transpired, it turned out that the intentional walk actually served no purpose as Morales got the next batter, Manny Machado, to foul out, giving Morales two recorded outs for the inning and decreasing the Orioles' run expectancy to 0.83. It looked as if Morales might be able to work himself out of the jam in which he had gotten himself, an illusion that quickly evaporated with the next at-bat.
On the fourth pitch of his match-up with Morales, Chris Davis hit a single to center that scored two runs and allowed the Orioles to reap the promising bases and outs situation they had sown earlier in the inning, actually exceeding the number of runs one should have expected them to score in the inning.
While the focus might be on the dramatics of the 12th inning, the truth is that the Red Sox had started losing the contest much earlier, starting in the third inning. With the Red Sox already leading 2-0, they had positioned themselves nicely to score even more runs, loading the bases with zero outs. Yet, the team failed to score a single run during the third inning.
Failing to convert their opportunities was a problem all night for the Red Sox and one reason why they scored fewer runs than the Orioles despite out-hitting their opponent; for the contest, the Red Sox put together a hitting line of .326 BA/.340 OBP/.478 SLG with a .350 wOBA while the Orioles managed one of .222 BA/.271 OBA/.289 SLG with a .243 wOBA. Had the Red Sox done more with their run-scoring chances, the game would have been vastly different since it is possible that the game would not have even needed to go in extra innings.
Collecting hits in crucial situations also would have resulted in the Red Sox benefiting from a strong start by Jake Peavy, who continues to impress. On Wednesday, he pitched 7.0 innings and gave up three earned runs, giving him a quality start for the evening. Even more impressively, he struck out 27.6 percent of the batters he faced and pitched to a 2.99 expected fielding-independent ERA. His only failure, and it proved to be a costly one, was his inability to strand more base runners; his left on base percentage for the game was a mediocre 62.5 percent.
With four games against the Baltimore Orioles left in the season, the Red Sox are running out of chances to finish the 2013 campaign with a winning record against their American League East rivals.