The excitement about Opening Day disappeared when the Boston Red Sox scored four runs in the third inning and six more in the fourth on the way to a 13-2 trouncing of the Orioles on Friday night in Boston.
In this most different of seasons because of Covid-19, the Orioles began it by allowing the most runs they’ve ever given up in an opener.
The lopsided loss was discouraging to the fans who waited until July 24th for baseball to start and to the Orioles, whose optimism for a better 2020 season took a beating.
MASN broadcasters Scott Garceau and Ben McDonald weren’t on hand in Boston, and they gave viewers an inside look at their multiple monitors from their remote location at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
There wasn’t much good news on their monitors, beyond a Rio Ruiz home run and a run-scoring double by Renato Nunez.
It was was the second straight opening-game loss under manager Brandon Hyde, the first time they’ve dropped consecutive openers since 2007 and 2008.
Under Hyde’s predecessor, Buck Showalter, they’d won eight straight openers.
Starting pitcher Tommy Milone, who got the call because John Means was scratched with arm fatigue, allowed four runs in three innings.
“He fell behind and missed spots,” Hyde said. “They had four doubles in the same spot. He had good stuff the first two innings. He had a good changeup. I thought he got squeezed a hair in that third inning, and was one or two pitches away from limited damage. It just didn’t happen.”
Milone pitched a scoreless first and second.
“I was just leaving some balls over the middle of the plate,” he said. “Some changeups there that I thought were some decent pitches, Primarily, my changeup is best when it’s down and away to righties, and it was leaking more middle so they were able to get the barrel on it. “
Milone, 33, pitched an opener for the first time in his career.
“I was definitely excited,” Milone said. “It’s kind of a weird feeling because obviously there’s no fans there. It’s one of those things where you’re not nervous to be in front of a bunch of people playing baseball. It’s more of an excitement to get out there and face a different team.
“It was a good feeling to be out there and get things started. Obviously, not the way we hoped it would start.”
Cody Carroll relieved Milone and didn’t retire any of his four batters, walking three. They all scored in a six-run fourth for Boston. Travis Lakins gave up two runs in two innings, and David Hess allowed three runs in four innings.
Boston had 17 hits. J.D. Martinez and Kevin Pillar each had three. Pillar also took away a hit from Austin Hays by making an outstanding running catch in right field on the first pitch of the game.
“I’d like to flush this one,” Hyde said.
Milone has a 9.70 ERA in five career starts at Fenway Park.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to only go three innings,” Milone said. “I know it’s early, but I don’t want to put a lot of stress on the bullpen early on, especially the first game of the season. You don’t want to see that.”
Nathan Eovaldi gave up a run on five hits in six innings for Boston.
“That was the best I’ve seen Nathan in a while,” Hyde said. “He’s throwing 99 or 100 with his heater in the first few innings with the 91-mph cutter. Before when we got to him, he’s had a tough time with command. Last year, he was spraying the ball. Tonight he did not. He was pretty locked in.”
The Orioles play the Red Sox on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. Alex Cobb pitches against Martin Perez.
Openers don’t get old for Davis: Before the game, Chris Davis talked about the excitement of Opening Day, his eighth with the team.
“Opening Day is always special because it signifies the start of a new season,” Davis said. “Gives you a chance to start over and rewrite the last few chapters of your story, whether that’s good or bad.”
Davis is beginning the fifth year of a seven-year, $161 million contract. His last two seasons have been awful — .168 and .179 with a total of 28 home runs — but he built up his strength and had a strong spring training.
“I think it’s a big year for everybody,” he said. “Just with everything that’s going on. Just walking in today, seeing the setup, seeing the challenges that we’re going to have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, it’s a big deal for everybody.
“Personally, I feel good. I’m back to myself. I feel like I’m enjoying the game the way I know how to play it, and it’s refreshing. It’s nice to go out there and enjoy what you do. Even in the midst of everything that we have going on, it’s been nice to be out on the field with my teammates, to see those guys again, to feel somewhat normal. Away from the field, it’s going to be a challenge, but at least we’re going to get the opportunity to play, hopefully, 60 games, 60-plus.”
Davis isn’t setting number goals for 2020.
“Just being a productive player,” he said. “I know that’s kind of vague. Not putting so much stock into results and how I’m going to match up statistically. What I’m going to accomplish as a player and how I’m going to go about that. In the past, that’s why I was able to have so much success the years that I did. I was focused on my process. I was focused on how I went about my business, and I think if I can keep my focus on that, how I prepare myself, at the end of the season, the results will be there.”
Odds and ends: Hyde said that Asher Wojciechowski will start on Monday in Miami, and that Kohl Stewart could start Tuesday. He hopes that John Means will come off the injured list to start on July 30 against the Marlins … The Orioles outrighted right-handed pitcher Hector Velázquez to Triple-A Norfolk, removing him from the 60-man player pool, which stands at 55 … The Orioles announced that they had signed Iowa high school right-hander Carter Baumler, their fifth-round pick to a contract reported at $1.5 million. The Orioles have signed their six draft picks in 2020.