The Baltimore Orioles begin a steeper climb for a postseason berth this weekend against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
The Orioles (72-65) watched their American League playoff chances take a hit when they lost three of four games to the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, who now lead Baltimore by 4 1/2 games for third and final wild-card spot.
“It’s going to take some wins,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of closing that gap. “We need to win. We won five series going into this series. We had a rough series. We’ve got to bounce back and continue to play winning series going forward.”
That effort begins Friday night against the Red Sox (67-71) in a series that is something of a role reversal. Recent seasons have seen the Orioles looking to play spoiler against the playoff-seeking Red Sox, and now it’s Boston on the outside looking in as they sit 10 games behind Toronto.
Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against the Blue Jays Wednesday, but Alek Manoah silenced their bats after that in an eight-inning effort.
Right-hander Austin Voth (4-2 4.41 ERA) can rebound in the opener for Baltimore. Voth allowed a run on six hits and struck out four over 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision last time out during an 8-1 win over the Athletics.
Hyde lifted Voth after he allowed three straight singles to load the bases in the fourth, calling on Keegan Akin who escaped without allowing a run.
“It just wasn’t Voth’s night,” Hyde said. “Something was a little bit off tonight. He’s been so great for us and due for a little bit of a hiccup. Only giving up one run there was enormous.”
Voth’s sample size versus Boston is small. He is 0-1 with a 15.00 ERA in three innings of work.
Boston counters with rookie right-hander Brayan Bello (1-4, 5.91 ERA), who will make his seventh Major League start. He earned his first win Saturday, throwing six shutout innings against Texas. The 23-year-old allowed three hits and a walk while striking out five.
“I think he knows what’s going on and he’s thinking about what he should do,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “As far as executing the game plan, that was his best.”
Boston limps into Baltimore following a three-game sweep by the host Tampa Bay Rays, including a 1-0 loss on Wednesday. In that game, the Red Sox went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
“We didn’t put the ball in play, we didn’t hit the ball hard with men in scoring position, and they do what they do,” Cora said.
The Red Sox finished 1-10 at Tropicana Field and saw their record against AL East opponents fall to 18-39.
The Orioles lead the season series against the Red Sox 7-4 with three games this weekend and four games in Boston (Sept. 26-29) remaining.
Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts is expected to return after leaving Tuesday night’s game with back spasms and sitting out Wednesday as a precaution.
–Field Level Media