Red Sox crushed by Orioles to finish ugly year at Fenway Park

Orioles 10, Red Sox 1

Fenway Park won’t host another Red Sox game until 2021.

The takeaways:

1. The stakes

There’s a lot at stake for the Red Sox in the final weekend of the 2020 MLB season.

Thursday night, they finished their home portion of the 2020 schedule with an 11-20 record. It’s the second straight season they’ve had a losing record at Fenway Park.

They finished 5-5 against the Orioles (24-33), who were widely considered the worst team in baseball heading into the season. With one more loss, the Sox can secure last place in the American League East for the fourth time in nine seasons. They’ve also finished first four times and third once.

The Red Sox fell to 22-35 overall. Only the Rangers (19-37) and the Pirates (18-39) have worse records.

This weekend, the Sox will play three games with the Braves (34-22), who already have first place locked up in the National League East and might not be trying all that hard.

If the Sox can lose out, they have a chance at the No. 2 overall pick in next year’s MLB Draft. If they win out, they could fall as far as No. 9 overall, depending on what else happens.

2. Don’t get too excited about the Red Sox rotation

Martin Perez didn’t have it on Thursday.

The Orioles knocked him around for six runs on nine hits over four innings as he finished the season 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA. He struck out 45 and walked 28 in 62 innings.

The Red Sox hold a $6.25 million option on the 29-year-old left-hander, who has a 5.30 ERA over the last three seasons.

Some think he’s a lock to be back next year. But if the Red Sox are interested in actually upgrading the front of their rotation, which should have serious questions with Chris Sale coming back from Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez missing the entire 2020 season with heart complications from the coronavirus, they might be better off saving the $6.25 million and putting it toward a better starter.

“I want to be back next season,” Perez said. “I feel at home here. One thing that I want to say to the fans, thank you for all the support and all the good messages they sent to me on my Instagram and my Twitter.  It was amazing and I just want to appreciate all the fans for their support. I know it was not the way we were supposed to play but we were just trying to do our best.”

The Sox are also excited about Tanner Houck’s hot start and Nick Pivetta’s Red Sox debut, in which he threw five innings of one-run ball and struck out eight against the Orioles this week.

After the Red Sox’ optimism about their pitching staff for 2021 was reported on the NESN broadcast during the game, Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley put a stop to the conversation.

“I’ll tell you what, I’m not getting too carried away with this (2021 rotation talk),” he said. “Calm down here. You (Pivetta) go out and have a nice outing against the Baltimore Orioles, you’re not exciting me. It’s like, there’s a long ways to go.”

A long way, indeed.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. may have played his last home game in a Red Sox uniform

It felt like the kind of night that Bradley would make one of his signature diving catches in center field to say his goodbye to Fenway Park, but it never happened.

Bradley wasn’t tested much in center on this night. But he did smack a ball off the Green Monster for perhaps his final time as a member of the home team.

Bradley loves hitting the ball to the opposite field and enjoyed great success in Fenway during his career, hitting .262 with a .780 OPS at home compared to .216 with a .681 OPS on the road.

The 30-year-old will be a free agent after the season.

“Pretty special guy,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’ll see what happens after this season, but I’ve sure had a great experience with him and coaching him and now managing him. He goes about his business as professional as you can get. He’s a great guy on the field, off the field, he does some great things for this club and for the community. Hopefully things work out.

“I can’t say what’s going to happen here, but I think we’re starting to see the offense has been really good for a few weeks now. I know he had a tough start. We know he always plays great defense, and he’s going to, whether it’s here or somewhere else. He’ll do well wherever he ends up, whether it’s here or somewhere else. It was a privilege getting to know him and watching him play.”


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