Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: DH J.D. Martinez (.316 with 21 HR, 54 RBIs); LF Andrew Benintendi (.293 with 71 hits, 10 SB); 1B Mitch Moreland (.296 with 10 HR, 13 2B); SS Xander Bogaerts (.277 with 9 HR, 54 hits); LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (7-1, 3.68 ERA); LHP Chris Sale (5-4, 2.83 ERA); RHP Craig Kimbrel (2.00 ERA, 20 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: 6-1
June 11: RHP Steven Wright (2-0) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (4-7); 7:05 p.m., MASN
June 12: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (7-1) vs. RHP David Hess (2-2); 7:05 p.m., MASN2
June 13: LHP Chris Sale (5-4) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (2-8); 3:05 p.m., MASN2
Inside the Red Sox:
It’s fair to wonder whether the Red Sox are asking themselves, “What more do we have to do?” The club boasts the top-ranked offense in the majors - entering Sunday, Boston was first in runs scored (339) and hits (600), tied for first among team batting average (.265), and second in home runs (95) - and the American League’s second-ranked pitching staff. Still, despite success on both sides of the ball, the Red Sox are grappling with their fiercest rival, the Yankees, for the top spot in the AL East. A trip to Baltimore might be just what the Red Sox are looking for to try and put some distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers at the top of the standings. This season, Boston owns a 6-1 mark against Baltimore, and will look to continue its dominance over the scuffling Birds.
The biggest news with respect to the Red Sox offense has to do with right fielder Mookie Betts. Last week, Betts was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain and will likely be out until late June. At the time of his injury, Betts was on fire, sporting a .359 average with 17 home runs and a league-leading 52 runs scored. Make no mistake, though: you won’t find much sympathy from the Orioles about Betts’ absence. In six games against the Birds this season, Betts is hitting .409 with six extra-base hits. Funny enough, opponents of the Red Sox might not view Betts as the most worrisome hitter. For that title, look no further than designated hitter J.D. Martinez. Entering Sunday, Martinez was leading the major league with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs. In the month of June, Martinez is hitting .320 and has hits in eight of his last 11 games. Pay attention to left fielder Andrew Benintendi, too. The 23-year-old struggled out of the gate this season, but has since come around. In the last month, Benintendi is hitting .355 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. He’s also a legitimate threat on the base paths, as he leads the team among active players with 10 steals.
Steven Wright starts tonight’s series opener opposite Orioles ace Dylan Bundy. Wright will make just his second start of the season, as he’s spent much of this year in the team’s bullpen. Wright has amassed a stingy 1.57 ERA, and hasn’t given up an earned run since May 18. For his career, Wright is 2-2 with a 5.68 ERA against Baltimore. Maybe the team’s biggest surprise has been left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez boasts a 7-1 record - just three wins shy of his career high - and has tallied 77 strikeouts to just 21 walks. Rodriguez has already faced the team that originally drafted him twice this season. In his first start, he gave up just one run over six innings pitched, and then followed up that performance by blanking the Orioles over 5 2/3 innings on May 20. In the series finale, Chris Sale will look to build off of what was maybe his best start of the season on June 8. Sale gave up just one earned run and struck out 10 White Sox hitters over eight innings Friday night. On the year, he ranks second in the AL with 120 strikeouts.
The Red Sox bullpen is led by closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has been outstanding over the past month, converting his last 11 save opportunities. He’s allowed just two earned runs over that stretch and just two walks, as well. Paving the way for Kimbrel are relievers Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly.