A three-game sweep at the hands of the worst team in the major leagues has sent the Boston Red Sox into a tailspin.
They’ll try avoid their longest losing streak in five years when they begin a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on Friday.
After losing two games to Tampa Bay, the Red Sox (65-48) traveled to Kansas City and were swept in three games by the club with baseball’s worst record, with Boston surrendering leads in the Royals’ final at-bat in each of the last two contests.
The Royals scored two runs off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4 on Wednesday, then rallied for three off Boston ace Curt Schilling in the eighth inning on Thursday night to win by the same score.
It was the first time Boston was swept by Kansas City since April 26-28, 1996.
The lone bright spot for the Red Sox was Manny Ramirez, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 25 games.
Boston’s five-game losing skid is its longest since May 1-4, 2004. The team hasn’t had a longer slide since dropping nine in a row from Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2001.
The losses have come at a bad time for Boston, which has fallen 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the AL wild card standings. It remained three games back of the New York Yankees—who lost to the Chicago White Sox Thursday night—in the AL East.
“We’ve backed ourselves into a little bit of a hole. Now we’ve got to find a way to get out of it,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
The Red Sox have lost 10 of their last 14, while trailing at some point in every one of those contests.
The Orioles may be coming to Fenway Park at the right time for Boston, which won the first eight games of the season series before losing on May 17.
Baltimore (51-64) can count on having shortstop Miguel Tejada in the lineup despite his actions in Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to Toronto. Tejada, whose 1,033 consecutive games played is the longest current streak in the majors and the seventh longest in history, made an obscene gesture toward fans in the eighth inning of the defeat.
The shortstop, who leads the Orioles with a .327 batting average, 20 homers and 79 RBIs, apologized on Thursday.
“I want to apologize to everyone, especially to the Orioles fans and the fans in Toronto, for my action in Wednesday’s game,” Tejada said in a statement. “I was frustrated and should not have let things get to me. I am sorry and hope people will accept that and know that is not the kind of person I am.”
Since taking two of three from Kansas City on July 25-27, Baltimore has won just one game in each of its last four series.
Adam Loewen (2-3, 5.72 ERA) made the best start of his brief career on Saturday against the New York Yankees and will try to build on it when he starts for Baltimore on Friday.
Loewen allowed just one hit in a career-high 6 1-3 innings as the Orioles beat the Yankees 5-0.
“I don’t think I have ever pitched like that in my career against such a great team,” Loewen said. “It feels good to get that one out of the way, and hopefully there are a lot more of them to come. I can’t say enough about the great defense today.”
David Wells (0-2, 8.05) continues his search for his first victory this season when he starts for the Red Sox on Friday. Wells has made just four starts after spending most of the season on the DL with right knee problems.
The 43-year-old left-hander is 16-12 with a 3.98 ERA in 44 career games—32 starts—against the Orioles.
Tejada is 15-for-44 (.341) with five homers and 10 RBIs against Wells.