O’s game blog: The road trip begins in Boston

Two teams trying to get it going meet tonight in the first of a three-game series at Fenway Park. The Orioles (38-75) are out to break an eight-game losing streak. Boston (66-51) has lost six of eight and 11 of the last 14. The Red Sox are 11-15 since the All-Star Game.

This is the Orioles’ second trip this year to Fenway Park, and their first went quite well. It was the first series of the year and the Orioles posted wins by scores of 3-0, 4-2 and 11-3. They swept the opening series by an 18-5 score for their first three-game sweep in Boston since Aug. 25-27, 2017.

The Orioles have won four in a row at Fenway and have outscored Boston 31-6 in those games. The visiting team is 10-1 in the last 11 games between the Orioles and Red Sox.

Mullins-Dugout-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles are 6-3 in Boston since the beginning of the 2020 season. As a team, the O’s have slashed .305/.367/.460 in the nine games, recording 27 doubles.. Center fielder Cedric Mullins has hit safely in each of the 10 games against Boston this season, batting .439/.500/.707 (18-for-41) with 10 runs scored. He hit .692 (9-for-13) in the three games at Fenway Park to begin the season. First baseman Trey Mancini is a career .348/.414/.583 (40-for-115) hitter in 30 games at Fenway Park, and he’s hit safely in 26 of the 30 games.

With just three wins in the past 14 games, the Red Sox have gone from leading the American League East by two games to trailing first-place Tampa Bay now by five games. But Boston does currently hold the second AL wild card spot, leading for that by two games over the Yankees and by 2 1/2 games over the Blue Jays. But Boston has lost four series in a row.

O’s pitchers allowed just five runs and 18 hits in that season-opening series at Boston. Their three starting pitchers - John Means, Matt Harvey and Bruce Zimmermann - gave up five earned runs over 17 2/3 innings in the series.

The Red Sox have scored fewer than five runs in 13 of their last 16 games. They were held to one or zero runs in five of those games. Overall, the Red Sox rank in the top five in the majors in team batting average (3rd, .258), slugging (4th, .437), doubles (1st, 244), and extra-base hits (1st, 404). They rank eighth in runs per game (4.92). The Sox own the AL’s best record when scoring four or more runs (58-11, .841), second-best in the majors behind Milwaukee (59-11).

On the mound tonight, Orioles right-hander Spenser Watkins (2-3, 4.22 ERA) will make his eighth appearance and seventh start. The Orioles are 2-4 in the first six. Watkins has allowed 31 hits over 32 innings with a 1.313 WHIP, and has given up 8.7 hits and 3.1 walks per nine innings to go with 6.2 strikeouts. Last Saturday against Tampa Bay he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits over six innings, on 97 pitches.

Watkins’ first three starts: A 1.76 ERA, .216 average against and .642 OPS
Watkins’ last three starts: A 6.89 ERA, .299 average against and .861 OPS.

Lefty batters hit .232 with a .664 OPS off Watkins. Right-handed hitters bat .277/.821 against him. In three road games he is 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA and 0.868 WHIP.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta (8-5, 4.34 ERA) gets the start for Boston. The Red Sox are 14-8 in his 22 starts on the season, but have lost his last two. And that is even though he threw a scoreless start his last time out, last Saturday at Toronto. He pitched six innings, allowing just one hit on 76 pitches. In his four previous starts, his ERA was 6.75. In 11 home starts, Pivetta is 3-2 with a 5.80 ERA and has allowed 1.98 homers for every nine innings.

Pivetta is 5-0 with a 3.23 ERA over five career starts versus the Orioles. That marks his best record against any team and second-most wins over any opponent, behind a 6-3 record against Atlanta. He is 2-0 against the Orioles this year, allowing six runs over 12 innings.

Mullins has hit safely in a career-high 19 straight games. That is the longest active hitting streak in the majors and the third-longest by a player this season, behind Nick Castellanos’ 21 in a row and David Fletcher’s 26 straight.

It’s the longest hitting streak by an Oriole this season and longest since Adam Jones hit safely in 20 straight from May 10-29, 2012. There have been 15 separate hitting streaks of 20 or more games in O’s history. This is Mullins’ third streak of at least 11 games this season, and he has five separate streaks of at least eight straight games this year.

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