A look at the O’s challenge in Boston, and other notes

Since the 2012 season - when they returned to the playoffs after 14 losing seasons - the Orioles have a winning record in head-to-head matchups with the Boston Red Sox.

In fact, the Orioles have won the season series in five of the last six years since then. That includes a 10-9 mark last season, when the Red Sox won 93 games and their second straight American League East title.

But now the Orioles may have some trouble beating the Red Sox. They got swept three straight at Fenway Park in April by a combined 20-7 score. A scheduled fourth game of that series got rained out and will be made up tonight when the teams play the first of a four-game series.

The Orioles were also swept three straight in their final series against Boston last year. They were outscored in that one by 20-8 at Camden Yards. So they are not only out to break a 12-game road losing streak tonight in Boston, but a six-game losing streak versus the Red Sox.

Even with those defeats, the Orioles are 64-52 (.552) against the Red Sox since 2012. Since the 2014 season, the Orioles are 23-18 (.561) at Fenway Park. Starting in 2014 the Orioles have gone 7-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 and this year 0-3 in Boston.

But as the teams begin this series tonight, they are separated in the standings by 15 1/2 games, with Boston at 29-14 and the Orioles at 13-29. The two teams are trending in opposite directions, and the Red Sox are looking for a third consecutive division title.

The Orioles offense showed some signs of life during a 5-3 homestand, even though it ended with them being shut down by Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta. Are the Orioles finally playing better now? The next four games will provide some answers.

Don’t run on Sisco!: I know it happened. I was there. At least one scout I can remember once told me that Chance Sisco would never catch a game in the majors. But scouts are not right all the time, and this gent wasn’t about Sisco.

Thumbnail image for Sisco-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgNo one is confusing him with Johnny Bench these days, but Sisco is leading all American League catchers in percentage of baserunners caught stealing. He is up to 50 percent now, throwing out nine of 18 after getting his latest on Wednesday afternoon.

Before the game yesterday, Sisco told me his success here is much more about his feet than his arm.

“It’s about footwork. Just being as consistent as possible with my footwork,” he said. “Getting the throw on its way as quick as possible. And having (Jonathan) Schoop and Manny (Machado) up the middle to make some adjustments on throws if they are not on the base. It is all about footwork for me. My arm (strength) hasn’t changed in the last year.

“There are a lot of things that go into it, but if your footwork isn’t up to par, it’s going to be tough to be able to get a strong and accurate throw down to second base. My arm strength hasn’t changed, it’s just been quicker.”

The Sisco kid should get a lot of credit for working so hard on his defense over the years. I admire his patience in answering so many of my questions about his defense over many interviews. Some props should also go to Orioles minor league catching coordinator Don Werner, who is in his 16th season in the organization and his 12th working with the catchers.

Still streaking: O’s center fielder Adam Jones homered in the first inning on Wednesday and that was the only run for the Orioles in the 4-1 loss to the Phillies. Jones hit his seventh homer a distance of 422 feet to center. He is now the owner of an 11-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .341 (15-for-44) with three homers and five RBIs and nine runs. It is his longest hitting streak since another 11-gamer June 16-30, 2016.

Jones has some catching up to do on offense in relation to his numbers from last year. Through 41 games this season he is batting .259/.277/.447. In 2017 he hit .285/.322/.466. Also, Jones has walked just four times this season, while striking out 36 times.

But since manager Buck Showalter moved him to the second spot in the batting order Jones is hitting .350 with an OPS of 1.045 over 10 games.

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