It’s the start of a seven-game homestand for Boston (72-68), which has lost two in a row and will need a strong September to have any chance of securing an American League wild-card berth. The Red Sox have 22 games remaining, and nine of their next 13 games will be against teams ahead of them in the standings.
“We’re going home now, and if we want to gain ground we have a chance now,” Boston manager Alex Cora said following Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay. “We have the best team in the American League coming up and then we have the Yankees (at home), then Toronto, Texas. This week is going to be huge for us.”
The Orioles (88-51), who lead the American League East, finished a three-game sweep of Anaheim with a 10-3 victory on Wednesday night. Outfielder Austin Hays went 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in the win.
“He’s just driving the baseball, getting huge hits for us, plays Gold Glove defense every night in left field,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “Had an outstanding game offensively (Wednesday night). He shows up to play hard every day.”
Baltimore owns the best road record in the American League (46-25).
“We came here with the goal of winning the series and we did that in the first two games so coming out (Wednesday) and scoring 10 runs, that was huge,” Hays said. “It’s good to rest up on this cross-country flight and we’ll keep this thing rolling in Boston.”
The Red Sox, who have lost four in a row at home, struck out 17 times during Wednesday’s loss to the Rays, and struck out 47 times in the three-game series. One of Boston’s few offensive highlights Wednesday came from rookie first baseman Triston Casas, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games when he singled in the ninth.
Boston will send right-hander Tanner Houck (4-8, 5.07 ERA) to the mound Friday night. Houck allowed four earned runs on seven hits in five innings in Boston’s 9-5 victory over Kansas City on Saturday. He struck out five and walked one.
Houck is 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA in seven career appearances (three starts) against Baltimore. He has 25 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.
Righty Kyle Bradish (10-6, 3.03 ERA) is expected to start for the Orioles. He limited Arizona to two runs on four hits in six innings during Baltimore’s 7-3 triumph Saturday.
Bradish hasn’t fared well against the Red Sox during his career. He’s 0-4 with a 9.36 ERA in six appearances (all starts).
Outfielder Alex Verdugo has missed Boston’s past three games because of a tight left hamstring, but Cora said he could be in the lineup Friday.
“Every series is important right now,” Hyde said. “Doesn’t matter who we play, every series is important. We only have 20-something games to go and they all mean something.”
—Field Level Media
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