The Orioles look to build off an encouraging homestand as they open a three-game series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday.
Baltimore (17-18) defeated Tampa Bay 11-6 on Thursday, wrapping up a three-game series sweep and a 5-2 homestand. The Orioles, who set a season high for runs, also moved into second place in the East—seven games behind Boston (23-10).
“It was a big sweep against a team like that,” said Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar, who homered and drove in four runs Thursday. “We’re playing good baseball and starting to swing the bats as a group.”
Millar, who helped Boston win the 2004 World Series, nearly had six RBIs, but Rocco Baldelli reached over the wall to steal a potential two-run homer. Still, the Orioles, who had lost nine of 10 games before their homestand, ended up outscoring the Devil Rays 20-9 in the series.
Baltimore has recorded three three-game sweeps this season after getting just two in 2006.
“We’re certainly going in there feeling good about ourselves,” manager Sam Perlozzo said.
However, sustaining that momentum this weekend won’t be easy. Boston outscored Baltimore 11-3 in two wins at Camden Yards earlier this season and has won 22 of the last 25 meetings between the teams, dating to 2005.
“We need to come in there and make a point and try to take a series,” Millar said. “It would be nice to go in there and play well.”
The Red Sox routed Roy Halladay and the slumping Toronto Blue Jays 8-0 on Thursday. Boston has won four straight, including a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, and is coming off a 5-1 road trip that also included a stop in Minnesota.
“We’re just playing good baseball, man,” said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, who homered for the third straight game. “We’re pitching, we’re hitting, we’re playing defense. We’re clicking right now.”
After going 0-for-11 in three games at Minnesota, Lowell went 5-for-13 with seven RBIs at Toronto. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) with three homers and 16 RBIs in 14 lifetime home games against the Orioles.
Boston will send Julian Tavarez (1-3, 6.48 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. Tavarez turned in his best start of the season on Saturday, allowing two runs in six innings against Minnesota, but was saddled with the 2-1 loss.
Tavarez had allowed at least three runs and lasted no more than 5 1-3 innings in each of his first four starts.
“He was outstanding,” manager Terry Francona said.
Tavarez is 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA in 13 career appearances, including two starts, against the Orioles. His last outing against them was a start on Sept. 29, when he allowed two runs in five innings of a 4-3 win, and he has not lost to Baltimore since 1996.
The Orioles will counter with Brian Burres (0-1, 3.71), who made the first start of his career on Sunday and allowed five runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 9-6 loss to Cleveland. Burres, who posted a 1.35 ERA in six relief appearances before replacing injured starter Adam Loewen in the rotation, struck out the side on 15 pitches in the first inning but let nine of the next 16 batters reach base.
“That’s not really the Burres we know,” Perlozzo said of Burres’ lack of control, “so we’ll chalk that up maybe to nervous jitters.”
Burres has no record against the Red Sox, whom he has limited to one hit in three scoreless innings spanning four relief outings.