While the Boston Red Sox finished April with a slightly better record than the Baltimore Orioles, the AL East foes share the common trait of constantly being involved in close games.
The first two games of their season series were close, and both teams seek a little more breathing room Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series in Baltimore.
Boston ended April with an underwhelming 9-13 record, a mark due to them losing four extra innings games on the road and eight of 14 decided by two runs or fewer.
Baltimore ended April with 14 losses in its first 21 contests. The Orioles are 6-8 in games decided by two runs or fewer and have split eight one-run games.
Baltimore is in position for the series win after getting a 2-1 victory on Saturday night. Speedster Jorge Mateo scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a throwing error by Boston reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, who tried to get the out at third on a bunt by Robinson Chirinos.
The Orioles tied the game in the eighth on a two-strike single by Anthony Santander on a night when they were no-hit for 5 2/3 innings by Nathan Eovaldi. They were also without Trey Mancini, who is day-to-day with a rib injury.
Baltimore snapped a five-game skid, thanks to the efforts of six relievers who combined on 5 1/3 scoreless innings after Spenser Watkins went the first 4 2/3 innings.
“We pitched extremely well,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “It started off with Spenser. The rest of the guys, they all had great stuff. Just a gutty performance by our pitching staff.”
Boston is 3-6 on its 10-game road trip. The Red Sox have been held to three runs or fewer in six games on the trip. They stranded 10 runners after Xander Bogaerts’ RBI single three batters into Saturday’s game.
“At the end of the day, we have to be better,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “If we want to compete and be the team that we envision, we have to hit.”
The Red Sox also continued to play without J.D. Martinez, whose groin injury has kept him out for three straight games. He is expected to return Sunday.
Baltimore’s Jordan Lyles (1-2, 5.40 ERA), who allowed three homers Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, hopes to keep the ball in the ballpark this time. Lyles led the AL last year with 38 homers allowed when he was with Texas. He allowed one homer in his first three outings before the barrage by the Yankees.
Lyles is 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox. Lyles is hoping for similar results as his previous start against the Red Sox, when he pitched seven innings of one-run ball in a 10-1 win at Fenway Park on Aug. 21.
Nick Pivetta (0-3, 8.27), who is 0-6 with a 6.61 ERA in his past 12 appearances dating to last season, goes for the Red Sox.
Pivetta is 6-1 with a 3.60 ERA in eight career outings against the Orioles. He is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five career starts in Baltimore.
–Field Level Media