BALTIMORE—After beating Chris Sale in the first game of their final home series, the Orioles hoped they could continue to make the Boston Red Sox’s quest for a wild-card spot more difficult.
Zac Lowther gave it a gallant effort, but the Orioles couldn’t muster any offense against Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox bullpen in a 6-0 loss before an announced crowd of 8,732 at Camden Yards on Wednesday night.
Lowther (1-3) lost his first major league start against Boston (89-69) on May 8th when he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. On September 18th, he gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings at Fenway Park.
In his previous start, Lowther pitched five shutout innings against Texas on September 23rd, earning his first major league win.
Against Boston, Lowther allowed one earned run, J.D. Martinez’s 28th home run in the second, on eight hits.
“Very encouraging,” Lowther said of his two most recent starts. “A lot of the stuff that we’ve been working on finally coming to fruition. The last two weeks have been getting into a rhythm. It’s been really promising that my stuff, I don’t have to change anything. I just have to have a plan and attack these guys and do my thing out there.”
Lowther, who finishes with a 6.67 ERA, will enter next spring as a candidate for a starting job.
“I think it was a very good test for me,” Lowther said. “It gives me a really good idea of what I need to work on in the offseason. This offseason is very important for me. Just getting a taste of the competition up here and having a clear plan to go into the offseason of what I need to work on to give myself the best chance to be able to compete in the AL East and the rest of the league.”
The Orioles (51-107) who have been held to four or fewer runs in 13 of their last 15 games, were shut out for the 10th time this season.
Lowther was helped by the play of Kelvin Gutiérrez at third. He started two double plays, one in the third when Hunter Renfroe lined to third, and he threw to second to get José Igeleias, and another at third when he forced Alex Verdugo at third on a grounder by Kiké Hernández and threw to first to get Hernández.
Gutiérrez also hit an opposite-field double to right, leading off the third, but didn’t score.
“He did a nice job of keeping us in the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We just didn’t score tonight.”
In the sixth, Lowther left the game after Rafael Devers hit a leadoff single. Eric Hanhold’s first batter, Xander Bogaerts grounded to Gutiérrez, who muffed it for a two-base error. Devers and Bogaerts, who were on third and second, both scored on a double by Martinez.
Cedric Mullins, whose selection as Most Valuable Oriole was announced earlier in the day, doubled to lead off the sixth. Ryan Mountcastle walked, and Eovaldi retired Austin Hays on a fly ball to center, struck out Trey Mancini and Pedro Severino flied out to right.
Eovaldi (11-9) pitched six scoreless innings. Ryan Brasier, Hansel Robles and Matt Barnes pitched three hitless innings.
Alex Verdugo’s two-run single in the eighth against Konner Wade gave Boston a 5-0 lead. Renfroe’s 30th home run in the ninth off Spenser Watkins made it 6-0.
“To face a good offense in must-win games for them right now, giving up one run going into the sixth inning, that’s a real positive,” Hyde said about Lowther. “Great experience for him. All these guys are getting great experience in this type of environment going against these type of clubs … To battle the way he did, it’s a confidence booster for him.”
Hyde is looking closely at Lowther, Alexander Wells, who’s pitching on Thursday night, and Bruce Zimmermann, who is expected to start the final game of the season in Toronto on Sunday.
“It’s a small sample,” Hyde said. “But they are pitching in meaningful games, so you see how they compete, their stuff, see how they deal with adversity. I love how [Lowther] pitched through that fifth inning, to watch guys get through innings, go through the lineup a couple of times against really good major league hitters, that’s the evaluation you’re doing, and taking into next year and see what happens.”
Notes: In their final home game on Thursday night, Wells (1-3, 7.61 ERA) will face Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.52). … Thomas Eshelman could get the start on Friday night when the Orioles begin their final series of the season in Toronto. John Means and Zimmermann are expected to pitch the final two games of the season. .,, Adley Rutschman had two hits in Triple-A Norfolk’s 4-1 loss to Durham. Rutschman is batting .322. Paul Fry allowed a run in an inning. Infielders Pat Dorrian and Cadyn Grenier and pitcher David Lebron were promoted from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk for the final week of the Tides’ season.