The Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles own two of the most powerful offenses in baseball, and the team with the most home runs has taken each of the first two games in the series. The Red Sox will try to launch the most over the wall in their own park and maintain their lead in the American League East when they host the Orioles in the rubber match on Wednesday.
Boston slugged three home runs in its 12-2, series-opening win on Monday and added another on Tuesday, but it was not enough to overcome Baltimore’s three blasts. The Orioles put up five runs in the second inning on Tuesday on the strength of the home run ball and went onto a 6-3 victory, which pushed them into a tie with the Toronto Blue Jays for the two wild card spots in the AL — two games ahead of the chasing New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox sit two games clear of Baltimore and Toronto, four games ahead of New York, in the East but are down to eight home games left in the regular season. The Orioles return home for 11 straight after finishing up in Boston and will host losing teams Tampa Bay and Arizona on the homestand in addition to four games against the Red Sox.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.61 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (20-3, 3.21)
Gausman is 4-0 in his last five starts, with the lone no decision coming at Detroit on Friday. The LSU product turned in three straight scoreless starts before allowing three runs and seven hits to the Tigers over six innings. Gausman suffered through a pair of terrible starts against Boston in the first half of the season, allowing five runs in six innings at home on May 31 and managing only three frames while getting rocked for six runs in a loss at Fenway Park on June 15.
Porcello became the first pitcher this season and the first Red Sox pitcher since Josh Beckett in 2007 to reach 20 wins when he held the Blue Jays to two runs on six hits in seven innings on Friday. That marked the ninth consecutive start in which the Cy Young candidate went at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs. Porcello, who is 13-0 at Fenway Park this season, struggled at Baltimore on June 2 and was charged with five runs on six hits – three home runs – over six innings in a no decision.
1. Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia recorded multiple hits in 14 of the last 17 games and is 21-for-31 in his last seven home games.
2. Baltimore OF Steve Pearce (elbow, forearm) sat out Tuesday and is day-to-day.
3. Boston OF Andrew Benintendi (knee) was activated off the disabled list on Tuesday and is expected to play on Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6