BOSTON—With the Orioles on the way to their 11th loss in 12 games, manager Brandon Hyde provided a pleasant diversion for his team by inserting Hunter Harvey in the eighth inning of a game the Orioles trailed by four runs.
Harvey, the team’s’ top draft pick in 2013, who was surprisingly called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday, watched and waited for seven innings as his team failed to mount any attack against Eduardo Rodriguez in the Orioles’ 4-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
His first major league hitter was J.D. Martinez, who grounded to third baseman Hanser Alberto. As the Orioles were throwing the ball around after the out, Alberto absentmindedly threw Harvey’s keepsake ball in the stands. Fortunately, the Orioles bargained and quickly got the ball returned.
Harvey, who is the 54th player and 37th pitcher for the Orioles this season, walked Andrew Benintendi, and struck out Christian Vazquez and Mitch Moreland to end his first major league appearance, more than six years after he was drafted in 2013.
“It’s crazy,” Harvey said. “Everybody is asking, ‘How did it feel?’ After I got the first pitch out of the way, it was so much easier to breathe. It was fun.”
It wasn’t a certainty that Harvey was going to pitch. Hyde had Shawn Armstrong warming up, and when the Orioles fell behind 4-0 and didn’t mount a rally in the eighth, Harvey was summoned.
As he jogged to the Fenway Park mound, there were many thoughts in his mind.
“Everything, everything that’s slowed me up to this point,” Harvey said. “All the injuries, all the negative stuff I had in my past, to overcome that and finally reach my dream has been awesome.”
When Armstrong began warming up, Harvey thought: “’Oh, maybe it’ll be tomorrow or the next day.’ I just sat there and hoped, and it ended up working out.”
His father, longtime major league reliever Bryan Harvey, drove 12 1/2 hours from North Carolina to watch Hunter’s debut. Bryan Harvey came on to the field after the game to hug his son.
“It’s pretty cool,” Harvey said. “It’s Fenway Park. Everybody dreams of playing in Fenway Park. It’s one of the older fields in baseball. It’s awesome.”
Hyde was impressed with his new reliever.
“What did you think? Did you like it? I did,” Hyde said. “It’s obviously electric stuff and to make his debut at Fenway Park and throw 100 mph and throwing strikes and just really attacking their hitters with obviously an electric fastball and good off-speed stuff, yeah, that was really fun to watch.”
Hyde was with the Chicago Cubs when they brought young players in during the second half of 2014, and he thinks the Orioles are doing it the same way.
“I mean, it’s fun to watch young, exciting players get here and you see their tools,” Hyde said. “[With the Cubs], it was like you couldn’t wait to watch them play. And Hunter Harvey is one of those guys who it’s going to be really fun to watch him come out of the bullpen. You can see a bright future there, so that’s why it’s really gratifying.”
Bryan Harvey watches: On May 16, 1987, Bryan Harvey made his major league debut against the Orioles in Anaheim, and pitched a scoreless inning. Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. were among the hitters he faced.
Thirty-two years later, he watched his son pitch for the first time.
“My dad used to tell me this; he said, ‘I walked a hole in the floor last night,’” Bryan Harvey said. “‘What were you nervous about? I’m the one pitching.’ But I know the feeling. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. But it was really fun, and it was awesome.”
The elder Harvey was heavily involved in his son’s training, and the two are extremely close. It pained him to live through Hunter’s injuries — Tommy John surgery, a broken leg, injuring a shoulder when he tried to elude a foul ball in the dugout.
“That was like a snowball rolling down the hill,” Bryan Harvey said. “After he got sent down out of spring training in ’15, it was one thing after another. He’s battled through everything. Last year was a freak thing. There’s been a couple freak things in this. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. He’s battled back. He never gave up. He worked his butt off to get here. It’s happy now.”
Orioles get no offense: Rodriguez allowed a second-inning single to Jonathan Villar, a single to Richie Martin in the third, a leadoff double to Trey Mancini in the sixth and a one-out single to Alberto in the eight. He struck out four, walked two and hit a batter.
Mancini attempted to advance to third on Anthony Santander’s grounder to short but he was thrown out.
After Asher Wojciechowski pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two hits, Brock Holt led off the fifth with his second home run of the season. Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled and scored on Wojciechowski’s wild pitch.
Wojciechowski allowed two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
“I threw a lot of pitches the first two innings,” Wojciechowski said. “I knew I really needed to get some quick outs. I just tried to focus on getting early contact and throwing good quality strikes.”
Wojciechowski watched Harvey pitched, and liked this work ethic.
“He’s got an electric arm,” Wojciechowski said. “He’s got the stuff. Nice for him to get out there and get his major league debut out of the way.
“I know that he’s been working hard the last couple years and battling through injuries. So him getting in there and getting his feet wet, it’s a big moment for him. Now, he can move forward and continue to be a big leaguer and work to have a long career.”
Miguel Castro relieved Wojciechowski and pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings.
Castro was followed by Paul Fry, who retired his first two batters and then gave up a double to Mookie Betts and a two-run home run to Rafael Devers to give Boston a 4-0 lead in the seventh.
Oriole pitching has allowed 253 home runs, five away from the major league record. The 2016 Cincinnati Reds allowed 258 in 2016.
In the eighth, Matt Barnes relieved Rodriguez and Mancini singled. Alberto and Mancini advanced on a wild pitch. Santander and Nunez struck out, ending the Orioles’ only threat of the game.
The Orioles were shut out for the seventh time this season, and their record fell to 39-84.