The Red Sox and Orioles split their four-game series last weekend at Fenway Park. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The Red Sox will make their first trip of 2015 to Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series with the Orioles starting Friday night. The two teams split their first series of the year at Fenway Park last weekend. Boston currently holds the top spot in the AL East, but the top and bottom spots in the division are separated by just two games.
Despite the division lead, the Sox have struggled on the mound and have not had the offensive consistency many expected at the beginning of the season. The pitching staff is ranked 24th in the league with a 4.44 ERA, 13th with a 1.26 WHIP, and 12th with a .242 batting average against. No Red Sox starter has an ERA below 4.00, and Joe Kelly (4.08) is the only starter with an ERA below 5.50.
Boston’s bats have been able to win some games for the team, but have yet to live up to what was expected of them. They are tied for sixth in baseball with 76 runs and tied for 10th with 15 home runs, but there have not been enough base runners to expect this productivity to continue. The Sox are ranked 19th with a .238 team average and 17th with a .689 OPS. Just two Red Sox hitters (Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts) have averages over .271 and only four (Holt, Bogaerts, Ryan Hanigan, and Pablo Sandoval) have OBPs of at least .350. Over the last seven days, just Hanigan has an average over .250.
Hanley Ramirez is tied for second in the American League with five home runs.
Shane Victorino is listed as day-to-day with hamstring tightness.
The Orioles have had a unique schedule, as they have only faced divisional opponents to this point. Their first game outside of the AL East will by Monday against the White Sox. Baltimore currently sits at 7-8, two games behind Boston for first place.
Baltimore’s pitching staff has fared even worse than that of the Red Sox. It is ranked 28th in baseball with a 4.98 ERA, 22nd with a 1.36 WHIP, and 11th with a .241 batting average against. Part of the Orioles rotation has been strong, with three of its starters owning ERAs of 3.07 or lower. However, the remaining two starting pitchers, Chris Tillman and Bud Norris have ERAs of 5.52 and 17.42, respectively. The Red Sox will see Norris on Sunday.
Fortunately for the O’s, their bats have continued their strong play that got them to the postseason last year. They are seventh in the MLB with a .271 average, eighth with 70 runs, and fourth with an OPS of .790. Five members of the Orioles have averages above .300.
Outfielder Adam Jones is first in the AL in with a .418 batting average, second with 16 RBIs and tied for second with five home runs.
Three key members of the Orioles are on the disabled list: shortstop J.J. Hardy, catcher Matt Wieters and second baseman Jonathon Schoop. Reliever Wesley Wright is also on the DL.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Friday: Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.63) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 2.55)
Saturday: Justin Masterson (2-0, 5.74) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.07)
Sunday: Wade Miley (1-1, 6.08) vs. Bud Norris (0-2, 17.42)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
— Holt has done everything for the Sox in the past week. He has played great defense at several different positions while going 4-for-14 in his last four games. In just 29 at-bats this season, he has 12 hits, two doubles, five RBIs, a walk, and a stolen base.
— Hanigan, the most productive Red Sox hitter over the past week, is five for his last 14 with a home run, a double and 2 RBIs. He owns a .395 OBP on the season.
— After starting the season on the DL, closer Koji Uehara has been almost perfect in his few times on the mound. He has made three appearances of one inning each, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out four. The 40-year-old is 2-for-2 in save opportunities.
WHO’S HOT: ORIOLES
— Jones has reached base safely in nearly half of his 59 at bats this season. He has an OBP of .470. In the last seven games, he is 12-for-27 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs.
— Infielder Ryan Flaherty is 7-for-17 in his last five games, which has brought his batting average up to .300 on the season. In that time, he has a home run, three doubles, and three RBIs.
— After starting out the year slowly, third baseman Manny Machado is hitting .292 in his last seven, and has hit two home runs for eight RBIs in that time. His average for the season is still on the rise and is currently at .218.
WHO’S NOT: RED SOX
— Mookie Betts is just 3-for-19 in his last six games. He started the year strong with eight RBIs in his first seven games, but has only driven in one in the next seven.
— Bogaerts has cooled off after his hot start, going two for his last 17. In that time, he has one RBI, two walks and five strike outs.
— Before being removed from Wednesday’s game with hamstring tightness, Victorino was hitting just .143 on the season. He has just five hits in 35 at bats, and has reached base safely only 11 times this season.
WHO’S NOT: ORIOLES
— In his last 15 at bats, outfielder Alejandro De Aza has just one hit and has not scored a run in four games played or tallied an RBI in six games.
— In his last start, Norris went just 2 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays and allowed nine runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two. He has only gone five innings once in three starts, and allowed eight, three, and nine runs in those outings.
— In his last seven games, shortstop Everth Cabrera is 5-for-26 with no RBIs and one run. He has no extra-base hits on the season and has only scored three runs and gotten three RBIs. He season average is .231.