BOSTON—Starter Asher Wojciechowski closed out his season by showing the Orioles that he deserves to come back for 2020.
Wojciechowski, who spent the second half of the season with the Orioles, got stronger as he went along on Friday night, throwing six scoreless innings, allowing four hits in the Orioles’ 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
The win was the 53rd for the Orioles against 107 losses. Their final two games of the season are Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Wojciechowski allowed a one-out double to Xander Bogaerts in the first, stuck out Juan Centeno with two runners on in the second to end the inning, and was helped out in the fourth when Sam Travis ran through third base coach Carlos Febles’ stop sign and was tagged out at the plate on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s double to end the inning.
In the fifth and sixth, Wojciechowski retired Boston in order, but he didn’t necessarily think he got stronger as he went along.
“I was just more so really just trying to execute pitches,” Wojciechowski said. “I knew kind of where my pitch count was, in the season, too. I really just tried to focus on just executing a pitch, not overthrowing, getting good bite on my slider, on my cutter. Really just was happy with the way things ended.”
When the 30-year-old journeyman looks back on the season, he’ll likely remember the Red Sox fondly.
On July 21, he allowed just one hit in 7 1/3 innings, which equaled the Orioles’ longest start of the season, against the Red Sox. He had only two scoreless starts, and both were against Boston.
“The ball kind of fell my way today,” Wojciechowski said. “But I was happy, executed pitches well. I was happy with my performance today.”
Tanner Scott worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Mychal Givens struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth, and Richard Bleier allowed a run in the ninth.
Rafael Devers doubled to begin the inning, and Bogaerts singled to score him. Bleier then picked him off first.
“We’ve been kind of waiting for this type of game,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
“They don’t happen very often, where it’s smooth. Our guys, you can forecast what’s going to happen next. Mike had two right-handers in his inning, Tanner had two left-handers in his inning. Richard was going to have three out of four left-handers in his inning.
“So it’s a lot easier to navigate when guys are getting it done and getting guys out when they’re supposed to. And it’s not going to be perfect every night. We’ve just had a tough time this year and tonight we just did a great job out of the bullpen.”
The Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the third when Renato Nunez hit his 30th home run of the season with two on.
With one out, Austin Hays doubled and Trey Mancini walked. Dwight Smith Jr. struck out, and Nunez hit a long home run to left. Nunez had 28 home runs on August 21.
“What can I say? It was always in the back of my mind,” Nunez said of the 30th homer. “Like I always say, I’m just trying to help my team win. I did that today, and that’s all I want.”
Hyde said Nunez should feel a sense of accomplishment.
“I think Noonie’s really been pressing trying to get that 30th, and I told him he’s going to sleep a lot better tonight knowing he’s got 30 homers,” Hyde said.
“It’s a great accomplishment in his first really full year in the majors. Twenty-five years-old and hitting 30 is impressive, and he hit a big one for us tonight.”
Mancini and Nunez both have at least 30 homers and 85 RBIs. It’s the ninth time in club history a pair of teammates have done that.
In the ninth, Hays led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Nunez’s opposite-field single to right.
“When I’ve got men on second and third, what I want is to bring that guy in,” Nunez said. “I feel like that’s my job. I was just battling in that at-bat. I react well, and I hit that ball to right field. It was amazing. I felt great.”
The Orioles walked nine times, equaling their high for a nine-inning game this season, and left 11 runners on.
“That’s one thing I’ve talked about a lot this year is we make it tough on our bullpen,” Hyde said. “We haven’t had done a great job out of the ‘pen this year, but we’ve also made it tough on them by leaving a lot of runners on base with a lead and not being able to get deeper into their ‘pen or extend the lead to just make it easier on ourselves.
“It seems like we have a tough time getting that big hit to put the game out of reach or to really extend the lead. So for Noonie to get that hit in the ninth to make it a four-run game was huge.”