At the outset of a record-breaking season for so many reasons, the Orioles brought a young team full of excitement and optimism into Boston for the season’s first series.
But by the third inning of Friday’s season opener at Fenway Park, those hopes were dampened. By the fourth inning, the game was all but over.
In the Orioles’ 13-2 loss, they allowed 17 hits, eight doubles and tallied just six hits of their own in a lopsided, disheartening loss to the Red Sox to open the season.
"I'd like to flush this one," manager Brandon Hyde said after the game.
It was the team’s first regular season without fans, a unique atmosphere that players all throughout the league experienced for the first time Friday. And despite the weird environment, the Orioles looked decent through the first three-and-a-half innings. Then, the floodgates opened.
Led by four doubles, the Red Sox hung four runs in the third inning to chase Orioles’ starting pitcher Tommy Milone from the game.
Milone, making the first Opening Day start of his career, took the loss. He threw three innings, allowed four hits and four earned runs, walked three and struck out five.
"It's kind of embarrassing to only go three innings," Milone said. "I know it's early, but I put a lot of stress on the bullpen early, especially the first game of the season. You don't want to see that."
Cody Carroll replaced Milone, but he didn’t fare any better. In fact, he didn’t record an out. Carroll allowed one hit, four earned runs and walked three before being pulled for Travis Lakins.
Still, the damage had been done as the Orioles fell behind 10-0 not even halfway through.
“I was just leaving some balls over the middle of the plate,” Milone said of his start. “Some changeups there that I thought were decent pitches, but primarily my changeup’s best when it’s down and away to righties, and it was kind of leaking more middle, so they were able to get the barrel on it, hook it down the corner. Just missing some pitches and they capitalized on it.”
The Orioles scored a run in both the sixth and seventh innings, but the damage was already done as they suffered an Opening Day defeat no one hoped for just hours before first pitch.
While it was just one game of 60, it wasn’t a confidence-inspiring start to the season for the Orioles. The 13 runs allowed were the most ever on Opening Day by the franchise, and the 11-run loss just narrowly beat out a 12-0 loss to the Brewers in 1988 to avoid being the most lopsided Opening Day loss in franchise history.
The Orioles carried an inner confidence about being a bit better than fans and analysts projected and expected all through Spring Training and Summer Camp, and certainly, a single loss doesn’t ruin those chances. It does, however, mean the Orioles will have to build the excitement of the fanbase and organization back up once again after a tough loss to open the year.
Through a season that is going to carry more weird and unique moments than ever before, the Orioles were hopeful they could be one of the happy surprises of the league. Now, it’s up to the young team to turn it around.
Last year, Hyde said the Orioles had the type of guys to put bad losses behind them and move forward. This year, he feels the same way.
“We have similar makeup type guys,” Hyde said. “We’ll be fine. We’ve got Alex Cobb going (Saturday). "Our guys are going to stay positive, turn the page and come out hopefully for a better result tomorrow.”
But the Orioles' start to the 2020 season doesn’t put them on the right side of history.
In that 1988 season, the last time the Orioles lost by more than 10 runs on Opening Day, they finished the year with the worst winning percentage in the sport. They started that season 0-21.
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