Stumbling Red Sox happy to face O’s again
Before the season began, a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at home in the final weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Boston Red Sox to ease their way into the postseason.
Except the Red Sox didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, stumbling out of the gate and never fully recovering, which led to their elimination from the playoffs in mid-September. Boston (83-76) will have nothing but individual milestones to play for as it ends its season against visiting Baltimore beginning Friday.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (2-0, 6.03 ERA) will take the mound for the Red Sox in the opener of the matchup. Baltimore will counter with righty Asher Wojciechowski (3-8, 5.31).
The Orioles (52-107) were once again the punching bag of the American League East this season, losing 51 of their 73 contests to date against division opponents. The Red Sox have gone 11-5 against them, including a three-game sweep in their last meeting at Fenway Park.
Boston enters this weekend having won two of three against the Rangers in Texas to complete the road portion of its schedule. The Red Sox lost 7-5 in Thursday’s finale, ending the 2019 campaign 46-35 in away games.
Meanwhile, at home, the Red Sox have gone 37-41, a far cry from their usual success at Fenway. Highlights this weekend include third baseman Rafael Devers needing four hits to reach 200 on the season, outfielder Mookie Betts one away from 30 homers and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez gunning for his 20th victory in Sunday’s finale.
“Just finish strong,” Rodriguez said. “That was the plan when I got here in spring training, finish the season strong, get ready for the next one.”
The Orioles are far from finishing the season strong, having lost seven of their last 10 games prior to a day off Thursday. Still, the team has shown fight of late, twice losing in extra innings over the past week.
“I want them to feel what it feels like to win, and I feel sorry for some guys a little bit at times because they’re trying so hard to win, and something happens late in the game, and it doesn’t happen,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said.
“I think there is going to be a day sometime soon where we’re going to win those games that we should’ve won, and our guys are going to look back at this and probably be better because of it,” Hyde said.
Orioles third baseman Renato Nunez is one homer from 30, and outfielder Trey Mancini needs six RBIs to reach 100 on the year.
Wojciechowski has struggled his way to the season’s finish line, going 1-5 with a 6.41 ERA in 10 starts since the beginning of August. His best outing of the year came against the Red Sox in July, when he held them to one hit and struck out 10 over 7 1/3 innings in a 5-0 victory.
For his career, Wojciechowski is 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA in three games (two starts) versus Boston.
Eovaldi is 3-0 in eight starts against Baltimore, though with a 5.65 ERA. The righty reached six innings for just the second time this season in his most recent game, when he held the Tampa Bay Rays to three runs and seven hits in a 7-4 victory.
–Field Level Media