Manager: John Farrell (5th season)
Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: 1B Mitch Moreland (.344/.420/.574 with 8 RBIs), RF Mookie Betts (.340/.407/.472 with 8 RBIs), LF Andrew Benintendi (.317/.397/.429 with 10 RBIs), LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 1.16 WHIP), RHP Craig Kimbrel (2.00 ERA with 6 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: 1-1
April 21: LHP Drew Pomeranz vs. RHP Dylan Bundy, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
April 22: RHP Steven Wright vs. LHP Jayson Aquino, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
April 23: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez vs. RHP Kevin Gausman, 1:35 p.m., MASN
Inside the Red Sox:
The Red Sox and Orioles exchanged blows in last week’s two-game series at Fenway Park, which resulted in an 8-1 win for Boston and a 12-5 victory for Baltimore. So this weekend’s three-game series at Camden Yards provides an opportunity for a “winner” to emerge between these two teams.
Boston’s offense has flexed some muscle since the last time they saw the Birds, a period over which the Red Sox went 6-2, winning a makeup game against the Pirates, three out of four against the Rays and two out of three in Toronto. The Red Sox rank in the top five in the American League in hits, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. Oddly enough, they rank last in all of baseball with just seven home runs.
But a trip to Camden Yards could fix that home run number, and you know Mookie Betts is excited for his first trip to Baltimore this season. Betts slashed an incredible .514/.609/.1.162 with eight home runs and 15 RBIs in 10 games at Camden Yards last year. As for this year, the right fielder is hitting .340/.407/.472 with eight RBIs, but just one longball. His outfield partner in left field, Andrew Benintendi, is putting together strong at-bats as well, hitting .317 with 10 RBIs.
First baseman Mitch Moreland leads with Sox with a .344/.420/.574 slash line, but the big swinger also leads his team with 18 strikeouts. Meanwhile, shortstop Xander Bogaerts is hitting a cool .333 and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (right knee sprain) is expected to come off the disabled list for tonight’s opener.
But while the offense is doing its part, the starting rotation (aside from Chris Sale) hasn’t quite lived up to its high expectations. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz starts tonight’s series opener, bringing a 1-0 record and 5.23 ERA. He was the starter in the Red Sox’s triumph over the Orioles last week, pitching six innings of one-run ball. But in his next outing against the Rays, Pomeranz gave up five runs over 4 1/3 innings. He’s 1-2 with a 4.97 ERA in five career outings (two starts) against the Birds and has made just two relief appearances at Camden Yards.
Steven Wright has had better starts to seasons. The right-hander gave up four runs in his season debut in Detroit, then got crushed for eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings against the Orioles last week. He gave up three runs (one earned) in his last outing against the Rays, bringing his ERA down to 8.36. Wright may be looking forward to getting another shot at this Orioles lineup, with this matchup coming at Camden Yards, where he’s 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his career. Eduardo Rodriguez’s 4.76 ERA is the best among this weekend’s Red Sox starters, but it’s a little skewed. In two starts this season, the southpaw is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA, but a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday brought his ERA down a bit. Rodriguez went 2-1 with a 3.92 ERA against the Orioles last season, with the two wins coming in Baltimore, where he earned a 2.20 ERA.
As for the bullpen, the Red Sox still have right-hander Craig Kimbrel in the closer’s role. Kimbrel leads the American League with six saves in the young season, but he blew the save yesterday in Toronto by giving up a home run to the Blue Jays’ Kendrys Morales. Luckily, Betts’ bases-clearing double in the 10th bailed out Kimbrel and allowed him to record the win.