It was one of their most spirited efforts of the year, and yet it ended with the familiar whiff of defeat. The Red Sox suffered a 9-6 loss in 17 innings when Adam Jones smashed a three-run homer into the Monster seats against Red Sox outfielder-turned-pinch runner-turned reliever Darnell McDonald, in the game because his team had exhausted its bullpen.
The loss was the fifth straight for the Sox, who have now lost 10 of their last 11 home games. In losing all three contests to the Orioles, the Sox got swept at home by the O’s for the first time since 1994.
Though he was long gone by the time the game was decided, Clay Buchholz played an immense role in the shape of the game. He left the team in an early 5-0 hole, getting shelled for five runs on seven hits and four walks while punching out four in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the year.
Buchholz gave up three homers and has now allowed 10 in 32 2/3 innings this year, matching his yield from 82 2/3 innings last year and exceeding the number (9) he gave up in 173 2/3 innings in 2010. He’s also permitted five or more earned runs in each of his six starts this year, the longest such streak by a Red Sox starting pitcher since Red Ruffing had eight straight yields of that volume in 1925.
The Sox came back for one run in the fourth and then, down 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth, the team loaded the bases. Will Middlebrooks jumped on a hanging first-pitch breaking ball from Orioles starter Tommy Hunter and cleared everything in left field, with the Red Sox sending a team employee to retrieve his first career homer from Lansdowne Street. Middlebrooks became the first Red Sox player since Daniel Nava in 2010 to have a grand slam for his first career longball.
With the game knotted at 5-5, it then became a battle of the bullpens.
Aside from runs given up by both teams in the eighth inning, the two bullpens continued their spectacular recent performances, with the Sox relief corps allowing just one unearned run over the next 12 1/3 innings. Particularly outstanding performances were turned in by Andrew Miller (1 1/3 IP, 3 strikeouts), Matt Albers (2 shutout innings, with the O’s 0-for-30 against him over the last two years), Alfredo Aceves (2 IP, 3 Ks), Franklin Morales (2 IP, no runs), Rich Hill (2 IP) and Scott Atchison, who came back to log two innings one day after tossing three relief innings on Saturday.
But at that point, both bullpens had been reduced to position players. And while the Orioles did their damage against McDonald, the Sox could not do the same against DH-turned-pitcher Chris Davis, who salvaged an 0-for-8 game in which he struck out five times by delivering a scoreless 16th inning (aided by a perfect relay to cut down Marlon Byrd at the plate after a two-out Mike Aviles double).