The Baltimore Orioles haven’t swept the Boston Red Sox at home and on the road in the same season in over a half century, but continued success against their AL East rival can only help their playoff push.
The Orioles finish their three-game series against the Red Sox on Thursday night.
In May, Baltimore recorded its first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since 1994, and following a 5-3 win at home Wednesday, the Orioles can complete a sweep at home Thursday. They haven’t recorded a sweep of the Red Sox at home and on the road since 1960.
Baltimore (64-53) rallied against Boston for the latest victory, scoring all five runs in the sixth after being held hitless the first five innings and falling behind 2-0. Red Sox starter Aaron Cook’s throwing error contributed to Baltimore’s big inning, which was capped by Mark Reynolds’ two-run double.
The Orioles, who remain in possession of one of the AL’s two wild-card spots, improved to 8-3 against the Red Sox in 2012.
Continuing that success could be key to ending Baltimore’s postseason drought. The teams are scheduled to play six times over the final two weeks of September, but manager Buck Showalter isn’t looking ahead.
“There’s so much baseball to be played and so many (teams) involved in this that I think it’s counterproductive to dwell on it because things can change so quickly in a week’s time,” Showalter said.
The Orioles, who have won three straight and nine of 11, will try to keep things going against Clay Buchholz (10-3, 4.24 ERA).
Buchholz is looking to continue a dominating stretch of his own. He is 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his last 11 starts and a 1.15 ERA over his last five outings while going 2-0.
The right-hander pitched a two-hitter in a 3-2 win over Cleveland last Friday. Only one of the runs - a solo homer in the first - was earned.
“That’s the best I’ve seen a guy against us, and we’ve seen some pretty good pitching this year,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We couldn’t do anything. He was way too good mixing his pitches.”
Buchholz is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA in three starts against the Orioles in 2012, but threw a four-hitter in a 7-0 win in June. He had allowed 10 runs in a combined nine innings over the previous two outings.
Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.40) will counter for Baltimore. He had his four-start winning streak snapped after allowing six runs and six hits, including three homers, in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-3 loss to Kansas City last Saturday.
The right-hander is making his first start against the Red Sox this season. He is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in two previous appearances.
Carl Crawford, who drove in two runs Wednesday, is 7 for 14 with two triples and one double against Tillman. Jacoby Ellsbury, who has a 38-game hitting streak against Baltimore, is 1 for 3 against him.
The Red Sox (57-61) fell to 4-10 in August with Wednesday’s loss, which was the sixth time in eight games they scored three or fewer runs.
The offense may not be getting better anytime soon. Boston announced before Wednesday’s game that David Ortiz, who has been out since mid-July with an Achilles strain, will stop all activity for a few days.