Hands down, the wildest and most chaotic series of the new season has been played at Fenway Park. The Baltimore Orioles hung on for a 10-9 win over the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day, but only after building an 8-2 lead and allowing the Red Sox to put the tying run on base in the ninth inning. The game featured four 1-2-3 innings, which is more than I would have guessed.
Game 2 on Saturday brought an even crazier finish. The Orioles again built a big and seemingly comfortable lead, socking three home runs against Chris Sale and led 8-1 in the middle of the third inning. The Red Sox answered with four runs in the bottom of the third and two runs in the seventh to climb to within 8-7. The score remained 8-7 until the ninth.
In that ninth inning, O's closer Félix Bautista got two quick outs on a Rafael Devers strikeout and a Justin Turner ground out. Bautista got what should have been the third out of the inning -- a lazy fly ball to left -- but Ryan McKenna did not look the ball into his glove. He dropped out No. 27. Masataka Yoshida was safe at first base and the game continued.
You know what came next, right? Adam Duvall sent the second pitch he saw from Bautista over the Green Monster for a two-run walk-off home run. McKenna failed to secure the final out, the Red Sox got new life, and Duvall turned it into a win.
"It's unfortunate timing. Bautista was throwing a hell of an inning there and all of our guys were really working hard to put us in a chance to win that game. Just tough timing," McKenna told the Baltimore Sun after the game. "… Obviously, it sucks, but we move forward."
The Orioles had a 95.1% chance to win Saturday's game after Bautista retired Turner for the second out, per FanGraphs. Even after McKenna dropped Yoshida's fly ball, Baltimore's win probability was 89.8%. All Bautista had to do was retire Duvall, a hitter with a .284 on-base percentage since 2020. Instead, he surrendered the game-losing dinger (BOS 9, BAL 8).
Through two games, the Orioles and Red Sox have combined for 36 runs and 74 baserunners, and each team has scored at least eight runs in each game. There have also been four errors as well, none more damaging than McKenna's. Duvall's home run was the first walk-off hit of the season league-wide, it should be noted.
It's not all bad for the Orioles, I suppose. Baltimore went 5 for 5 stealing bases on Opening Day and again went 5 for 5 stealing bases Saturday. They are the first team in history to successfully swipe at least five bases in the first two games of the season, according to the Boston Globe. MLB implemented a series of rule changes designed to encourage more stolen bases this season, and no team has taken advantage like the upstart O's. Now they just need to do a better job catching the ball.