Manager: John Farrell (4th season)
Last 10 games: 3-2
Who to watch: DH David Ortiz (2 HR, 5 RBIs, .294/.368/.765), 1B Hanley Ramirez (10 hits, .455/.478/.727), OF/IF Brock Holt (2 HR, 8 RBIs), LHP David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA), RHP Craig Kimbrel (1 save, 0.00 ERA)
Season series vs. Orioles: First meeting (8-11 in 2015)
Inside the Red Sox:
Two losing seasons and last-place finishes probably weren't the ideal way to follow up a World Series championship in his first year as Red Sox manager, so John Farrell got some new ballplayers for his fourth campaign. After going a combined 149-175 the last two years, Farrell has his team off to a strong start with a 3-2 record and a three-game series win over the defending American League East champion Blue Jays in Toronto. Two postponements in their season-opening series in Cleveland allowed Farrell to slide new ace David Price into the home opener slot today against the Orioles.
Price is on his third team since last July, being traded from the Tigers to the Blue Jays before last year's deadline and then signing a seven-year, $217 million contract with Boston in the offseason. The Red Sox had no problem adding to their payroll, the third-largest in baseball, for a legitimate ace to improve their second-worst 4.31 team ERA in the American League last year. They might have gotten what they paid for: Price pitched six innings, giving up just two runs on five hits and striking out 10, on opening day in Cleveland, which was pushed back a day due to weather.
Price is no stranger to the Orioles, having been a division rival in his six years with the Rays and the second half of last season with the Jays. The left-hander is 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 19 career starts against Baltimore. New Oriole Mark Trumbo hits .368 in 19 at-bats against Price with a home run and four RBIs, while Matt Wieters bats .341 with a homer and four RBIs as well. Manny Machado and Nolan Reimold have also taken the ace deep. Even though Price will be making his debut at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform, he already knows he likes pitching there with a 6-1 record and 1.95 ERA in 11 career starts in Beantown.
Adding to the Red Sox payroll but not to their on-field production is Pablo Sandoval, who, in the second year of his five-year, $95 million contract with Boston, lost the starting third base job to Travis Shaw as the Red Sox were breaking camp. Sandoval made his first start Saturday against the Jays and went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Meanwhile, designated hitter David Ortiz has already hit two home runs with five RBIs in his farewell season. Outfielder/infielder Brock Holt has also hit two homers to go along with his team-leading eight RBIs, while first baseman Hanley Ramirez leads the Sox with 10 hits.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz gets his second start of the season Tuesday night after a tough season debut. The Indians roughed him up for five runs in just four innings, giving him an ERA of 11.25. He may welcome the sight of facing the Orioles, with a 10-5 record and 3.65 ERA against the Birds in 19 career appearances, including 18 starts. Wednesday night's starter, righty Joe Kelly, fared worse in his season debut, giving up seven runs on seven hits in just three innings against the Blue Jays. The offense bailed him out, however, with six runs over the sixth and seventh innings for a comeback victory. The Red Sox acquired right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the Padres last November, bringing his career 1.62 ERA and 226 saves to the AL East. Kimbrel hasn't given up a hit, only walked one and struck out three of the seven batters he's faced in two innings so far this season. He has two saves in two shutout innings lifetime against the Orioles.
The Red Sox are hoping their big offseason spending leads to a big turnaround, and they're off to a good start, not losing either of their first two series. They passed their first test against the defending division champs (and without having Price pitch), but now they face the Orioles, who haven't lost at all and complement their daunting lineup with an major league-best 1.80 ERA.