BALTIMORE — As underwhelming as the Red Sox have been through 100 games this season, they may have reached their lowest point on Sunday afternoon.
Hours after producing a season-high 17 runs on Saturday night, the Red Sox returned to Camden Yards and put up their worst offensive performance of the season. Asher Wojciechowski dominated them over 7⅓ scoreless innings, as the Red Sox were one-hit in a 5-0 loss to the last-place Orioles at Camden Yards.
With it, the Red Sox (54-46) dropped two out of three this weekend to the worst team in baseball. It’s certainly not the way they wanted to go into a critical stretch that begins Monday in which they play 14 consecutive games against the Rays and Yankees that could significantly dictate the outlook of their season.
“It’s just tough,” Mookie Betts said. “Tough situation we’re in. Every game is important. It’s just one of those things where we just have to turn the page and get ready for tomorrow.
Wojciechowski, a career minor leaguer and journeyman who’s with his eighth organization, was making just his 15th career major-league start on Sunday. But against the hottest offense in baseball, he looked like an All-Star.
The Orioles right-hander, who entered with an 0-3 record and 5.74 ERA in three starts this season, no-hit the Red Sox through six innings and allowed just one hit on the day. The Red Sox simply had no answer for him.
“That’s the first time we’ve faced him, so I didn’t know much,” Betts said. “But you have to tip your cap. He pitched great. He had his slider really working today and kept us honest with his fastball. You have to tip your cap.”
Wojciechowski struck out five of the first six batters he faced on his way to striking out 10 on the afternoon. He generated 23 swings and misses on the Red Sox, including nine on a curveball that they consistently looked foolish against.
Rafael Devers broke the no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the seventh. Wojciechowski otherwise allowed just three baserunners – two on walks and another on a hit batsman. He allowed a one-out walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth before exiting to a standing ovation.
“We were undisciplined, especially the righties on the outside part of the plate,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He was cutting out there and then the slider, he was able to expand out with the fastball. He did a good job just keeping us out there and swinging at bad pitches. When you do that, you run into games like that. No hard contact, a lot of swings and misses. Surprising.”
The Red Sox still couldn’t do anything against the Orioles bullpen after he left. Sam Travis and Marco Hernandez each struck out against Paul Fry to end the eighth. Betts managed a leadoff walk against Mychal Givens in the ninth, but Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez went down in order.
Sunday marked the first time the Red Sox have been shut out in 81 games, the last time being an 8-0 loss to the Yankees on April 16.
“It’s a tough one, of course,” Cora said of losing the series. “But we have to turn the page. We know what starts tomorrow. Just go over there and just keep going with the rhythm offensively. Don’t let up. It was a bad day today overall as a team, especially offensively, but we know we can hit, we know we can score, it’s just a matter of tomorrow. We have a tough schedule coming up and be ready for it.”
In his return to Camden Yards a week after being traded by the Orioles, Andrew Cashner pitched six innings and gave up four runs. His last three innings were scoreless, but old friend Trey Mancini connected on two home runs and that was more than enough for the Orioles.
The Red Sox enter this crucial stretch that begins Monday in Tampa 11 games behind the first-place Yankees, and two behind the Rays. They’re within four for the second wild card spot.
Now is the time for them to get going.
“We just gotta play better in all aspects,” Brock Holt said. “We got a good stretch here against teams that we’re chasing, so this is a good time to start if we’re going to do it. Hopefully start tomorrow and start playing better baseball and string some wins together.”
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