Off to their best start in seven years, the revamped Boston Red Sox will try to keep rolling in their debut in front of the Fenway Park faithful.
The Red Sox’s first home opponent is the Baltimore Orioles, who dominated last season’s series and will try to avoid a third straight loss Monday afternoon.
Boston began remaking its roster even before finishing last in the AL East in 2012, shipping the beleaguered Josh Beckett Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a nine-player deal Aug. 25.
“Obviously, last year was my first year, and I didn’t really leave with the best taste in my mouth,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks told the team’s website. “And I don’t think (the fans) have the best taste in their mouths either. We kind of want to change some things around and have some fun and beat some people.”
Although they’re missing a pair of likely starters to injuries, the Red Sox have managed just fine so far with their retooled team. Their 4-2 start is the best since they went 6-1 to open 2006, and they had a spectacular day at the plate in their latest game.
Middlebrooks hit three of his team’s six home runs in a 13-0 rout in Toronto on Sunday. The 15-hit performance gave Boston a .290 average and 36 runs scored through its first six games, and the Red Sox are hoping to have David Ortiz and Stephen Drew in the lineup soon.
Ortiz (heel inflammation) might begin a rehab assignment Thursday, and Drew (concussion) could rejoin the team Wednesday.
Without those two, the Red Sox will try to keep things going against Baltimore (3-3), which won 13 of last season’s 18 meetings. Those were the Orioles’ most victories over Boston since 1970, and gave them their first season series win since 2004.
“I’m really excited for my teammates who haven’t been on the home side of Fenway and experienced that,” Middlebrooks said. “I love this team. I love the energy we’re going to bring. I think the fans will love it as well.”
Clay Buchholz (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will try to delight his home fans with another strong performance. The right-hander gave up a solo homer, five singles and two walks over seven innings in a 7-4 victory against the Yankees on Wednesday.
Buchholz won his final two starts against Baltimore last season, recording a four-hit shutout at Fenway on June 7 in the first of those games. He’s 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA in six career home starts against the Orioles, who suffered a pair of one-run losses to visiting Minnesota this weekend.
Wei-Yin Chen winner of a team-best 12 games in his rookie season, will start for Baltimore. The left-hander was effective over 5 2-3 innings in his 2013 debut Wednesday, giving up two runs and seven hits, but the Orioles’ bullpen struggled in an 8-7 loss at Tampa Bay.
“We’ve got to go out there - we have got Chen throwing (Monday) - and spoil their opening day,” outfielder Adam Jones told the Orioles’ official website. “The more people, the more you want to shut them up. That’s how I look at it. I don’t care, they can stand up the whole game. They do anyway. But when you can silence 40,000 people, it’s pretty cool.”
Chen (0-0, 3.18) was 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his final two starts against Boston in 2012, giving up one run over seven innings in a 2-1 victory at Fenway on June 6.