During a dismal 2020 season in which they posted their worst winning percentage in 55 years, the Red Sox were in many ways fortunate that fans weren’t allowed inside Fenway Park.
But with fans back this season, it only took one weekend for them to discover how they would have been treated.
The boos started early on Easter Sunday, as Garrett Richards struggled to make it through two innings in his Red Sox debut, and only grew louder among the 4,458 frustrated fans allowed inside Fenway.
“Get it together!” one fan yelled from his seat in disgust from what he was watching.
It was too late. Richards was poor in his debut, and it only got uglier as a disastrous third inning opened the floodgates to an embarrassing loss that would have fit among some of the performances on display last season. When it was mercifully over, the Red Sox had lost 11-3 and sustained a convincing three-game sweep from the rebuilding Orioles to start the season.
The last time the Red Sox started 0-3 to start a season was 2012, when Bobby Valentine led them to a 69-93 record.
It can only go up from here.
After two solid starts from Nathan Eovaldi and Tanner Houck, the Red Sox were hoping for more of the same from Richards, but the right-hander had trouble locating his slider, and the O’s lineup went to work on him. He gave up three hits — a double and two singles — to start his day, and that set the tone.
Alex Cora was hoping Richards could go six innings to lead a needed victory, but the right-hander could only get six outs. Cora had finally seen enough after Richards put the first three batters of the third inning on, loading the bases with a walk to Maikel Franco. He heard boos as he walked to the dugout and Josh Taylor jogged in from the bullpen.
It only got worse.
Taylor walked the first batter he faced, Freddy Galvis, on four pitches to force in a run and the misery continued to snowball. Two hard-hit two-run doubles from Austin Hays and Trey Mancini broke the game open, suddenly making it an 8-0 game.
“Are you throwing BP?!” another fan shouted at Taylor after Mancini’s double, a reference to pregame batting practice.
A passed ball scored another run, and an RBI single from Ryan Mountcastle added to the damage. Six hits and seven runs later, the Red Sox needed Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock to save them from further embarrassment, as he induced Franco into a fly out to finally end the inning.
The Red Sox were down 10-0 before they even recorded a hit.
Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins went 5-for-5 and reached base six times, and four Orioles drove in two runs apiece.
Mullins got hits in each of the game’s first four innings and walked in the seventh before doubling in the ninth. Overall, he finished with three doubles, two singles and three runs scored.
Mancini, Anthony Santander, Franco and Austin Hays each had two RBIs and the Orioles finished with 17 hits.
That was more than enough for rookie starter Bruce Zimmermann (1-0). He earned his first major league win by going six innings and allowing three runs on four hits on 73 pitches. He struck out five and walked one.
In the series, the Baltimore relievers threw 9 1/3 shutout innings.
For the Red Sox, Whitlock threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in his major-league debut, and J.D. Martinez continued his torrid start to the season with a home run and RBI double, but those were the only real bright spots on another forgettable day for the Red Sox.