BOSTON—The last time Aaron Brooks pitched, the Orioles absorbed their second-worst defeat ever. While Brooks didn’t win against the Boston Red Sox six days after allowing nine runs in a 23-2 defeat, he at least kept the Orioles competitive for a time.
That time wasn’t nearly enough as the Boston Red Sox pulled away for a 9-1 win on Friday night.
After a brutal 10-game stretch that included seven games with the New York Yankees and three with the Houston Astros, the Orioles hoped that the defending World Series champions, who are far out of playoff contention, would make for a somewhat more competitive opponent.
Oriole pitching nearly avoided the home run ball, but Mookie Betts hit one against Tom Eshelman with two strikes and two outs in the eighth. They’ve now allowed at least one home run in 21 of the past 22 games. They also allowed six doubles and two triples.
Overall, the Orioles have lost 10 of 11 and are 39-83. When the difficult stretch against contenders began on August 5, the Orioles were comfortably ahead of their 2018 pace when they were a horrifying 47-115. They’re currently three games ahead of where they were after 122 games a year ago.
“It’s really tough,” Trey Mancini said. “You could’ve looked at our schedule at the beginning of the year and probably argue that this would be the toughest part, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles, and nobody feels sorry for us.
“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. Obviously, we haven’t been playing too well and haven’t really been playing in a lot of these games, unfortunately. We’ve clawed back in some, but tonight, [Rick] Porcello did a really good job of keeping our bats quiet.”
Brooks started out roughly when Betts doubled to begin the Boston first and scored on Rafael Devers’ single. After walking Xander Bogaerts, Brooks got J.D. Martinez to hit into a double play and Andrew Benintendi grounded back to Brooks to end the first.
The Orioles tied it in the third against Rick Porcello when Jonathan Villar singled with two outs and scored on Mancini’s double.
In the fourth, Martinez doubled with one out, and Benintendi followed with a triple. Mitch Moreland tripled to right with two outs, scoring Benintendi for a 3-1 lead.
DJ Stewart, who returned to active duty after he suffered a concussion on August 6, seemed to run down Moreland’s ball, but he misjudged at the end and the ball popped away.
It was the second time this season the Orioles had allowed two triples in a game. The last time came on July 22 in another game Brooks started.
Brooks was charged with five runs it 5 1/3 innings, the longest of his seven starts with the Orioles. He’s lost four of them.
“I kept us in the game longer than the last outing,” Brooks said. “I challenged hitters a lot better and made pitches when I needed. The results will come in whatever way they’re going to come. Physically, I felt a lot better.”
With the Orioles short on starting pitching, Brooks probably will stay in the rotation. He’s convinced things will turn around, and his 9.41 ERA will come down.
“I feel that way. I believe that way,” Brooks said. “The results, I kind of try not to focus on as much just going on and trying to do my job every night. I think we’re right there, and I’m excited to keep going.”
Brooks hit Martinez to begin the sixth. Benintendi singled, and Christian Vazquez bunted both runners along. Richard Bleier then intentionally walked pinch-hitter Sam Travis.
Another pinch-hitter, Chris Owings, doubled with the bases loaded, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a sacrifice fly to center, giving the Red Sox a 6-1 lead.
“You can’t win when you’re down 6-1 in the seventh,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’ve just got to have our guys pitch a little bit better to give us a chance.”
Porcello worked six innings, allowing a run on four hits for the win. After Mancini’s double, Porcello gave up just one hit in 3 1/3 innings.
Boston added two runs against Eshelman in the seventh on Martinez’s sacrifice fly and Benintendi’s double. Benintendi fell a home run short of the cycle with a triple, single and double.
Chance Sisco was the only Oriole with multiple hits. He singled in the fifth and eighth.
After the game, the Orioles optioned Eshelman to Triple-A Norfolk. Eshelman is 1-2 with a 6.50 ERA in 10 games with the Orioles.