O’s game blog: Looking for a series win against Red Sox

The Orioles would love to win their final home game of the 2021 season. Tonight, they get their chance when they host the Boston Red Sox in the series and homestand finale. The O’s have a chance to win this series after they won 4-2 Tuesday night but lost 6-0 last night, shut out for the 10th time this season.

The Orioles (51-107) fell to 26-54 through 80 home games with last night’s loss, where they were held to four hits in 32 at-bats and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They are 3-3 on this homestand and 4-3 over the past seven games at Oriole Park. The Orioles are 19-53 in games versus the American League East and are 9-28 at home in division games. They are 5-13 against Boston and 2-7 at home versus the Red Sox this year.

The Baltimore offense has had its struggles throughout the year and especially recently. The O’s have scored three runs or less in 12 of the past 17 games, scoring 53 runs in that span. In that time frame, the Orioles have scored five runs or more just three times. Going back a few series, they scored 10 runs in three games at Boston and seven runs in three games at Philadelphia. They scored 15 runs in four games versus Texas and have scored four runs in two games against Boston.

Lefty Zac Lowther took the loss last night, allowing two runs (one earned) in five-plus innings with no walks and four strikeouts on 73 pitches. Lowther is 1-2 with a 6.37 ERA. Over his past two starts, he has allowed one earned run over 10 innings.

O’s starting pitchers have an ERA of 2.03 over the last nine games. In 40 innings, they have yielded 37 hits and 10 runs (nine earned) with eight walks to 38 strikeouts.

Boston (89-69) snapped a four-game losing streak last night and maintain its hold on the No. 2 AL wild card spot in a very tight race with four games to go. Boston recorded its seventh shutout, as right-hander Nathan Eovaldi allowed four hits in six innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. He improved to 11-9 with an ERA of 3.75.

The New York Yankees (90-68) hold the No. 1 AL wild card beginning play tonight by one game over Boston. And Boston holds the No. 2 spot by just a half-game over Seattle (89-70), which is off tonight, and by one game over Toronto (88-70), which hosts the Yankees tonight and the Orioles beginning Friday for the season’s final series.

Lefty Alexander Wells (1-3, 7.61 ERA) will make his eighth start tonight and the Orioles are 1-6 in his first seven. On Sept. 19, he gave up five runs in five innings on 77 pitches against Boston.

In a sense, Wells has mirrored Lowther with more success outside of the AL East, a trend Lowther bucked with his solid pitching last night. In two September starts versus Kansas City and Texas, Lowther has given 10 hits and five runs in nine innings for an ERA of 5.00.

But in two recent starts against Boston and New York, Wells allowed 13 hits and 10 runs, and four homers, over nine innings for an ERA of 10.00 and OPS against of 1.088.

This season, lefty batters hit .293 against Wells with a .795 OPS. Right-handers hit .328/.979.

For Boston, right-hander Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.52 ERA) will make his 30th start and Boston is 16-13 in the first 29. But the Red Sox are 1-5 in his last six starts. In that span, Pivetta is 0-2 with a 6.12 ERA, allowing five homers and 17 earned runs over 25 innings, as opponents have hit .294 with an OPS of .855 against him.

Pivetta has made four 2021 starts versus Baltimore, going 3-0 with a 4.15 ERA, allowing 10 earned runs and five homers in 21 2/3 innings with a WHIP of 1.338. Boston is 4-0 in those games, but one big reason is they scored 35 runs in those games.

Elias speaks: Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias took O’s reporters’ questions today in the dugout pregame. Check Roch Kubatko’s blog for more.

Here are a few quick samples:

Elias, when asked if there is enough pitching in-house to compete: “I think it would be very overly optimistic of us to assume we have enough pitching to compete in our division just by bringing back returning players. With that said, we are very interested still and very encouraged by a lot of the guys that are on this 40-man roster. Even though a lot of them had rough stretches in the middle of the summer, we’ve seen some encouraging finishes of some of these guys in September, whether that is in the minors or in the majors. This group, by and large, is still part of our future plans and there is a lot of talent here. It is not surprising when guys have struggles pitching in the American League East in the first year or two in the big leagues.

“But we need to get more talented in a lot of areas and the pitching is certainly at the top of the list. So we’re going to be looking at external reinforcements for sure.”

Elias on whether he will spend on free agent pitchers and entertain multi-year pitching deals this winter: “I think that if it’s the right player and the right fit and the right value, we will entertain that and look for it. ... I’m not going to artificially force something like that just to be able to say we did that. We do have a lot of internal, talented pitchers that we are going to want to keep pitching. But we are also going to need pitchers from outside the organization to help share the load. So I don’t know what shapes and sizes that is going to come in right now. They have a say in it, too, the players out there.”

Elias on his recent comments that he is open to Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez being with team possibly as early as opening day 2022: “I think, on TV the other day, I mentioned they will be at spring training, (and) unless something happens, that is almost certain to be the case. And once you are in major league spring training, you’ve got a chance to show your stuff and make the team. And I think, first and foremost, we’re going to have to see how that goes. But both players had spectacular years. They’re two of the better minor league talents in the entire sport. We’re very excited about them. They are on schedule despite losing a full season with the pandemic.

“Grayson has not pitched in Triple-A yet. I don’t think it’s 100 percent necessary to pitch in Triple-A, so that doesn’t preclude anything. But, you know, that’s going to be a consideration. And Adley has spent a short amount of time as well and played very well there. So we’re just going to consider all factors. We’re not there yet, we’re a long way from the end of spring training. But I just kind of hope they pick up where they left off.”

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