(AP) — The Boston Red Sox’s busy offseason promised improvement from a forgettable 2014 season, but at least one thing seems to remain unchanged.
The Baltimore Orioles are still winning at Fenway Park.
Looking to avoid their first series loss of the year, the Red Sox will turn to Justin Masterson on Patriots’ Day and hope the right-hander looks considerably sharper than he did in his home debut.
Boston (7-5) dropped seven of 10 home contests with the Orioles (7-5) last season, and have followed with two losses in three tries during this four-game set. Baltimore got to Rick Porcello for eight runs in five innings of Sunday’s 8-3 win as Adam Jones and Ryan Flaherty went deep.
Jones is 8 for 14 with five RBIs in this series, part of a nine-game stretch in which he’s hitting .571 with five home runs and 14 driven in. Jones’ 35 RBIs at Fenway in his career are his most at any opposing stadium.
“I don’t mind this park at all,” Jones said. “I was getting cussed out all day … but I do enjoy playing here. It’s a great atmosphere for baseball.”
Emotions ran high on Patriots’ Day 2014, which came just over a year after the Boston Marathon bombings, and the Red Sox expect a similar atmosphere Monday.
“That will be a day that will live on,” manager John Farrell told MLB’s official website. “Each player has his own thoughts and relationships that each has developed with victims as they visit them in the hospital, the follow-up conversation and visits.
“Patriots’ Day in and of itself is such a unique thing to us in New England, to Boston and particularly with the 11 (a.m.) start.”
Masterson (1-0, 7.59 ERA) shined in the first start of his second stint with Boston, pitching six strong innings of a 6-2 win at Philadelphia on April 9. He followed with an abysmal performance Tuesday at Fenway, allowing seven runs and 13 baserunners in 4 2-3 innings before the Red Sox rallied for an 8-7 victory over Washington.
“It didn’t happen the way that I wanted it to,” Masterson said. “A little mechanics, I just have to trust everything. I was battling that mentally and physically.”
Baltimore will go with Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 4.35). He failed to escape the fifth inning of Baltimore’s 6-5 win over Tampa Bay on April 7, but held the New York Yankees to two runs through six last Monday in a 6-5 loss.
Chen owned a 5.26 ERA through his first nine starts against Boston, but has since lowered that to 4.24 following two excellent outings in which he has allowed seven hits and one run over 14 innings.
Dustin Pedroia has fared well against Chen in his career, going 14 of 27 with a triple and five doubles.
After going 2 for 18 in his first five games at Fenway, Hanley Ramirez went 2 for 4 Sunday and hit his fifth homer. He went deep only 13 times last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.