Now there is no American League East division rival against whom the Boston Red Sox have a losing record. In their twelfth game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox prevailed 4-3 to even the season series between the two clubs at six games apiece. The Red Sox also did what they have not done enough of this season; they won a game in which John Lackey started.
Lackey did not receive credit for the victory, and he was not on top of his game during Wednesday’s contest, but he still deserves credit for some of the victory as he kept the Red Sox in the game and made the team’s eventual comeback possible. Yes, Lackey did allow the Orioles to rattle off 7 hits against him, two of which were home runs and two of which were doubles, but he still managed to keep the Orioles from scoring more than three earned runs against him.
He accomplished the feat of giving up extra-base hits at such a high rate while keeping the Orioles from spending more time crossing home plate by minimizing the impact of each one of the hits. Out of the 7.3 innings he pitched, in no inning were the Orioles able to slug more than one extra-base hit against Lackey, and most importantly, the home runs were only solo shots, which lessened their damage. Usually, one would expect two home runs to lead to more than two runs being scored, but Lackey made his mistakes at the most opportune time: when the base paths were empty.
Holding the Orioles to three runs gave the Red Sox hitters less work to do when their bats finally woke up and shook off the sleepiness that had plagued them in most of the early innings. Before the seventh and eighth innings during which the Red Sox offense did most of its work, the team had only scored a single run thanks to a Shane Victorino RBI-single in the third inning.
As important as that run proved to be, it was but only an appetizer for the more serious run-scoring the Red Sox would do in the latter innings with their backs against the wall and a disappointingly low win expectancy of 24.2 percent entering the bottom of the seventh inning. Pedroia’s two-out two-RBI single, the most valuable Red Sox hit of the game, served to tie the game at 3-3 and give the Red Sox the advantage for the first time since the third inning.
It was an advantage further cemented by the exploits of Mike Carp in the eighth inning. Called on to pinch hit for Xander Bogaerts with two outs, Carp faced the second-most pressure-filled plate appearance of the game for the Red Sox; Pedroia’s plate appearance was a little more pressure-packed. Carp responded by singling to left field and scoring Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the winning run.
Even though Carp’s hit resulted in the Red Sox capturing a win expectancy of 85.7 percent, which dropped to 82.1 percent after the third out of the inning, the Red Sox still needed closer Koji Uehara to survive some high leverage plate appearances of his own to secure the victory. Uehara obliged by retiring the Orioles in order in the top of the ninth inning.
Perhaps the Red Sox have finally solved the mystery that has been the Baltimore Orioles and will no longer be troubled by that pesky team. Thursday’s game will go a long way into answering whether or not that is, in fact, the truth.