Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
The Boston Red Sox have trimmed their magic number to clinch the American League East down to six and can now turn their focus toward earning the best record in the AL. The Red Sox will try to pull off their second straight four-game sweep over a division contender when they visit the Baltimore Orioles for the series finale on Thursday.
Boston took advantage of a throwing error and got a three-run blast from rookie Andrew Benintendi in Wednesday’s 5-1 victory, pushing its lead in the AL East to five games over the Toronto Blue Jays with 10 contests remaining. The Red Sox have moved 1 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers and a half-game behind the Cleveland Indians in the race for homefield advantage thanks to a seven-game winning streak and a pitching staff that has held the powerful Orioles to five runs in the last three games. Baltimore is six games behind Boston in the East and is just one game ahead of the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers in the race for the second AL wild card. First baseman Chris Davis, whose throwing error led to five unearned runs on Wednesday, is 4-for-34 in the last nine games and struck out twice in Wednesday’s setback to push his league-leading total to 204.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH David Price (16-8, 3.91 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.72)
Price had a string of seven straight wins come to an end against the New York Yankees on Saturday, when he was reached for five runs and nine hits in six innings without factoring in the decision. The former Cy Young Award winner had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his previous six starts. Price faced Baltimore twice in that span and won both starts, surrendering a total of three runs – all on solo homers – while notching 13 strikeouts and no walks in 14 total innings.
Tillman is making his third start since coming off the disabled list and was solid in the first two, going 1-1 with a total of four earned runs and eight hits allowed in in 11 2/3 innings. The California native recorded 10 strikeouts and two walks in the two outings and kept the Orioles in the games despite a total of five runs of support. Tillman started at Boston on June 14 and breezed to a win, yielding one run and five hits in seven innings.
1. Red Sox 1B Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) got the night off on Wednesday but is expected back in the lineup on Thursday.
2. Baltimore 3B Manny Machado is 0-for-10 in the series and 2-for-21 in the last six contests.
3. Boston RF Mookie Betts is 6-for-10 in the series and is 18-for-34 at Camden Yards this season.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 3, Orioles 2