The Boston Red Sox have a run differential of plus-41 while the Baltimore Orioles are at minus-49. Yet it's the Orioles who are in prime contention for an AL wild-card spot, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox.
Boston is badly in need of victories in this three-game set at Camden Yards, which opens Tuesday night.
Baltimore (62-53) holds one of the AL's wild-card spots despite being outscored, committing more errors than any team and ranking last in stolen bases."From what I understand, this team has some people scratching their heads," manager Buck Showalter said.
Showalter's managing has been critical in helping the Orioles go 22-6 in one-run games and 12-2 in extra innings."The culture change that has evolved in the last couple years, obviously Buck is a big part of that," closer Jim Johnson said. "The personnel is a part of that as well. It's enjoyable, but when we look at it we're not satisfied. We have a goal of where we want to be, what we think we can be."
It's been a different story for Boston (57-59) in its first season under Bobby Valentine . The Red Sox have dropped six of eight extra-inning games, and are 3-6 against Baltimore.
One positive for Boston is its 23-14 mark against left-handed starters as it gets ready to face Wei-Yin Chen (10-7, 3.79 ERA) for the third time. Two of those defeats have come against Chen, who is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in those outings.
The Orioles rookie will try to bounce back after allowing a season-high seven runs over 4 2-3 innings Thursday in an 8-2 loss to Kansas City. Chen had given up seven earned runs in his previous five starts.
He will be backed up by a bullpen that is among the league leaders with a 2.99 ERA, with Johnson recording 34 saves."Obviously our bullpen is a lot better, statistically," Showalter said. "That's something that would stare out at you. And a lot of it's got to do with the way Jimmy's anchored the end of it."
These teams have similarly poor ERAs from their rotations, with Baltimore at 4.72 and Boston at 4.80.
The Red Sox need to see improvement from Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.97), who starts Tuesday. Beckett's ERA since the All-Star break rose to 6.75 after he surrendered a season-high eight runs over five innings Wednesday and did not get a decision in a 10-9 loss to Texas.
The right-hander had gone 12 straight outings without allowing a homer before the Rangers went deep three times against him. Beckett left his previous start with a back spasm.
"The back felt good. Just too many pitches down the middle of the plate and everything was up," he said.
Beckett has posted a 5.91 ERA in losing his last three starts to Baltimore.
He'll get his first look at rookie third baseman Manny Machado , who went 6 for 15 with three homers and seven RBIs in his first big league action as the Orioles split four games with Kansas City.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
|August 06, 2012||Vicente Padilla||15-Day DL||Strained right biceps|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||60-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|July 29, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 21, 2012||Mike Aviles||Day-to-Day||Turf toe|
|August 02, 2012||Ryan Flaherty||15-Day DL||Bacterial infection|
|July 28, 2012||Jim Thome||15-Day DL||Herniated disc|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
|July 02, 2012||Brian Roberts||60-Day DL||Torn muscle, right hip|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- It's payback time for the Baltimore Orioles , who have dominated the Boston Red Sox this season after being bullied by their AL East rivals for the better part of 15 years.
Mark Reynolds homered twice and drove in four runs, Omar Quintanilla also went deep, and Baltimore beat Josh Beckett and the Red Sox 7-1 Tuesday night.
Wei-Yin Chen (11-7) gave up one run, nine hits and a walk in six-plus innings for the Orioles, who moved 10 games over .500 (63-53) for the first time since June 24. Chen allowed at least one hit in each inning but was effective in minimizing the damage.
Baltimore is 7-3 against Boston this year, including 5-1 at Fenway Park. The Orioles have won the season series against the Red Sox only once since 1996, going 10-9 in 2004.
The trend seems to have reversed, and the Orioles can only hope it lasts.
"We've been playing really well against them all year," said Chris Davis , who had two hits and an RBI. "It was big for us to get the win and kind of set the tone for the series."
This isn't the same Boston club that lost in Baltimore on the final day of the season last year to fall out of the playoff picture.
This Red Sox team is 57-60, and Dustin Pedroia acknowledged after the game that there were a series of meetings in New York last month to discuss the team's decline under first-year manager Bobby Valentine .
"I know the coaches had a meeting, Bobby had a meeting, we all had a meeting," Pedroia said. "Basically when I spoke I said we all had to be better. That means the owners, Bobby, coaches, especially the players. I have had one problem with Bobby earlier in the year and I went into his office and talked to him like a man and he talked to me like a man. And we've been great. We've had a great relationship."
Pedroia said Valentine should keep his job.
"I don't think Bobby should be fired," he said. "Listen, we haven't played well and I am not going to blame anything on Bobby and I don't think anybody else is. It's on the players, man. Last year wasn't on (manager Terry Francona ). I know he took it hard. We all did. It's on the players, man."
Beckett (5-10) surrendered six runs and six hits, including two home runs, in 5 1-3 innings.
"You have to keep the ball down," he said. "This isn't a real friendly ballpark (for pitchers)."
It's been a nightmare season for the right-hander, 1-6 in 12 starts since May 20. In his past two outings against Texas and Baltimore, Beckett has yielded a combined 14 runs and five homers in 10 1-3 innings.
Reynolds hit a solo shot off Beckett in the fifth and greeted Mark Melancon with a three-run drive in the sixth. After totaling 113 homers over the three previous seasons, Reynolds has only 11 this year. It was his first multihomer game since last Sept. 21, when he connected twice against Beckett.
Playing in his fifth major league game, Baltimore's Manny Machado was held hitless for the first time. But he made two fine plays at third base, where he has yet to make an error.
Boston stranded 12 and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, a shortcoming fueled by cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez . He made the final out in the first, third and fifth innings, stranding a runner on second or third each time, and finished 0 for 4 with a walk.
Quintanilla hit Beckett's first pitch of the third inning over the right-field wall to put the Orioles up 1-0. He has four homers this season (including one with the Mets), after hitting only two in 227 games before this year.
Boston used a double by Cody Ross and an RBI single by Carl Crawford to pull even in the fourth.
Pedroia tripled with two outs in the fifth before Gonzalez grounded out. In the bottom half, Reynolds hit an opposite-field drive over the right-field wall to put Baltimore back on top.
Reynolds' homer, on Melancon's first pitch, capped a five-run sixth.
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed before the game for former Boston star Johnny Pesky , who died Monday. ... The Orioles placed LHP Troy Patton (ankle) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Steve Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk. ... The Red Sox activated RHP Andrew Bailey (thumb) from the 60-day DL. He got the last out in the eighth. Boston traded C Kelly Shoppach to the Mets following a waiver claim. Ryan Lavarnway started behind the plate for Boston and went 1 for 4. ... Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak against Baltimore to 37 straight games, the longest by a Red Sox player against one team. ... Beckett has a strikeout in each of his 299 major league games, the second-longest streak to begin a career since 1900 behind Dwight Gooden (349). ... Rookie Miguel Gonzalez starts for the Orioles on Wednesday night against Boston's Aaron Cook , who makes his first career appearance at Camden Yards.