With late chance to win, Orioles not nearly good enough against Red Sox

July 19, 2011 | Luke Jones

I’m not exactly breaking news by telling you the Red Sox are better than the Orioles.

A lot better.

On most nights, you could argue they don’t even belong in the same ballpark.

And yet, they were tied 7-7 entering the eighth inning at Camden Yards on Monday night. The sleep-deprived Red Sox were coming off a 16-inning marathon against Tampa Bay that caused them not to arrive in Baltimore until early that morning.

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Instead of slamming the door on a tired Boston lineup and turning it over to an Orioles lineup that had earlier scored five runs in the fifth inning to erase a 6-2 deficit, manager Buck Showalter turned to Michael Gonzalez, Mark Worrell, and Chris Jakubauskas to get him through the eighth inning.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Eight runs later, the Orioles trailed 15-7 and ultimately dropped their seventh straight game against the Red Sox, 15-10.

In fairness, Showalter wasn’t exactly playing with a full deck for a bullpen that’s not exactly known for shortening games when it’s at full strength, anyway. Closer Kevin Gregg — along with Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz — began serving a three-game suspension Monday stemming from the events at Fenway Park two weekends ago. Koji Uehara had pitched in three straight games and was unavailable to the Orioles skipper. And after the game, Showalter revealed his preference to save Jim Johnson for a potential save situation in the ninth inning or to stay away from the right-hander altogether if possible.

Showalter got his wish in saving Johnson after electing to remove Gonzalez in favor of the recently-promoted Mark Worrell — who hadn’t pitched in the major leagues since June 13, 2008 — with the bases loaded and Dustin Pedroia at the plate in a 7-7 game. As Pedroia always seems to do against the Orioles in crucial situations, the second baseman laced a double down the right field line to score two runs and give Boston the lead.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict what would happen after that as Worrell failed to retire a batter and Jakubauskas came on while six more runs came to the plate before the final out of the eighth was recorded.

Saving Johnson for a potential save situation in the ninth made little sense when it wasn’t going to get more difficult than a bases-loaded, one-out jam in a tie game in the eighth, but you almost had to feel sorry for Showalter’s lack of bullets late in the game. Of the six pitchers seeing action against the Red Sox on Monday, five had spent time at Triple-A Norfolk this season, with the only hurler avoiding the minors being the combustible Gonzalez.

“It is what it is,” said Showalter about the depleted bullpen. “I’m sure they would have loved to have Ortiz there tonight. It’s part of the situation and you deal with it the best you can.”

As is typically the case against Boston, the best the Orioles could offer wasn’t good enough.

Short of the Red Sox being leveled by an MTA bus, Monday couldn’t have been set up much better for the Orioles to beat the Red Sox, and it looked plausible until the embarrassing eighth inning.

Ten runs came across the plate for the Orioles, and they still lost in embarrassing fashion.

In their last five games against Boston, the Orioles have allowed an astonishing 47 runs.

Not even close to good enough.

Hear more from Buck Showalter as well as Brad Bergesen, Nolan Reimold, J.J. Hardy, Kevin Gregg, and Michael Gonzalez in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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