The Baltimore Orioles have been a thorn in the side of the Boston Red Sox all season long, accomplishing the feat of being the only American League East team against whom the Red Sox have a losing record. Their peskiness was apparent during Tuesday night's contest where they prevailed over the Red Sox as they scored a ninth-inning run that gave them their 3-2 winning margin. It was their eighth win in fourteen games when facing the Red Sox, and it also ended an extremely noteworthy streak by Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.
For a while there, even armed with the knowledge of regression to the mean and also having enough common sense to know that a pitcher cannot continue to keep opponents scoreless indefinitely, it looked as if Uehara might never allow a run again. For a little more than two months, which comprised 33.7 innings, Uehara had not allowed anyone to score a run against him, neither earned or unearned or at least none that were charged to his run account.
But like with all streaks, it was going to come to an end sometime. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the scoreless streak ended when the Red Sox were tied with the Orioles in the ninth inning, decreasing Uehara's margin of error. In fact, with the 2-2 tie, the game was still a toss-up, one that became more decided after the first two batters Uehara faced.
Facing his first batter of the inning, Orioles designated hitter Danny Valencia, Uehara was able to get into a favorable count with Valencia fouling off his first two offerings. However, the 0-2 count that should have given Uehara the advantage proved meaningless as Valencia hit the third pitch of the at-bat well enough to land himself a triple.
With a runner on third base and no outs, the Orioles were expected to score an average of 1.50 runs. All they needed was one run, which they got during the next at-bat as Matt Wieters hit a sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Alexi Casilla from third base and give the Orioles a win expectancy of 80.1 percent.
Even though Uehara allowed just one hit in the inning, retired the next three batters, and actually pitched pretty efficiently (11 of his 12 pitches were strikes), he still gave up what proved to be the winning run for the Orioles and found himself with a win probability added of -.274. It was a disappointing end to his scoreless streak.
Yet, even with the loss, the Red Sox are playing with enough house money that they could afford for Uehara to have an off night that was not really an off night at all and still hold onto a nine game lead in the division.