Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
The time is now for the Baltimore Orioles, whose hopes to win the American League East hinge on their four-game series against the first-place Boston Red Sox beginning Monday at Camden Yards. Baltimore took two of three at Boston last week but only managed to split its four-game set against last-place Tampa Bay and sits three games behind the Red Sox with 13 remaining.
The Orioles, who hold a one-game edge over Toronto for the top wild-card spot, used the long ball to edge the Rays 2-1 on Sunday as Manny Machado went deep in the sixth inning to forge a tie before Mark Trumbo launched his major league-leading 43rd of the season two frames later to snap the tie. Boston took out its frustrations of losing back-to-back contests against Baltimore by sweeping a four-game set with the New York Yankees over the weekend. Hanley Ramirez had quite the series, going 9-for-16 with four home runs and nine RBIs while opening and closing the set with game-winning blasts. The Red Sox still have a chance to finish with the most wins in the AL, as they trail Texas (88) by only three with Cleveland in between (86).
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (20-4, 3.12 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Dylan Bundy (9-5, 3.88)
Porcello looks to avenge a rare loss after he had his six-game winning streak snapped by the Orioles on Wednesday despite allowing just one run and four hits over eight innings. The 27-year-old native of New Jersey has suffered three of his four defeats this season on the road but has won three straight decisions away from home. Wednesday’s setback dropped Porcello’s career record against Baltimore to 3-8 in 14 starts but lowered his ERA versus the division rival to 5.19.
Bundy will be making his 13th consecutive start after beginning the season with 22 appearances out of the bullpen. The 23-year-old from Oklahoma has won six of his last eight decisions, with four of the victories coming against division leaders. One was recorded at Boston on Tuesday, when Bundy evened his record at 1-1 in six career games (two starts) versus the Red Sox despite giving up three runs on six hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings.
1. Red Sox DH David Ortiz was rested on Sunday but is expected to be in the lineup against Baltimore.
2. Trumbo has hit safely in eight of his last nine contests and 14 of 16 this month.
3. The season series has been tight thus far, with Baltimore holding a slight 8-7 edge.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3