Red Sox finding groove ahead of trip to Baltimore
The Boston Red Sox are shaking off their slow start and starting to play much more like they did in 2018.
The defending World Series champions took three out of four from the Chicago White Sox this past weekend, including a 9-2 victory on Sunday. The Red Sox are now just one game under .500 heading to Baltimore to start a three-game series with the rebuilding Orioles.
The Red Sox have won eight of their last 11 games and seem to be turning things around since a 6-13 start. Boston has scored 24 runs in its past two games, thanks to Sunday's win and a 15-2 victory Saturday.
In that game, the Red Sox banged out 10 straight hits in one inning.
"We haven't hit with men in scoring position like we did last year, but today, seems like everything clicked," manager Alex Cora told the media after Saturday's game. "It's one of those days where we can look back and be like, 'OK, we can do this, we're a good team.' "
There was more of the same on Sunday. Boston and Chicago were locked in a 2-2 tie after the seventh inning before the Red Sox exploded for seven runs in the top of the eighth -- the big hit was a Xander Bogaerts grand slam.
Boston went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position Sunday as it kept rolling.
The team's starting pitchers also are doing better, curbing one of the team's biggest weaknesses during its shaky start. Rick Porcello gave up two runs in six innings Sunday even though he got a no-decision.
The Red Sox will send right-hander Josh Smith to the mound on Monday for his first start of the season.
He has made just one appearance this season, pitching a scoreless inning of relief on Friday, and did the same in his only career appearance against the Orioles.
The Orioles will be going with John Means (3-3, 2.81), who has been the team's best pitcher so far. He is 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in two career games (one start) against the Red Sox.
Means has developed a nasty change-up that's been one of his big pitches so far this season. It's what turned him from a relief pitcher into a starter rather quickly.
Baltimore sorely needs its starters to pitch longer into games, though its bullpen should be rested after being called on for just 1 2/3 innings Saturday and none on Sunday, when the series finale with the Rays was rained out.
Dylan Bundy threw 7 1/3 innings Saturday in a 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay, the best start from any Baltimore pitcher this season. It was the first time in 2019 that an Oriole starter made it into the eighth inning, which has taxed an inexperienced bullpen.
Bundy's effort is something manager Brandon Hyde hopes the other starters can learn from and build upon.
"I think our guys pay attention, and it's something we've been talking a lot about, and I'd want to believe that's how we're going to pitch going forward," Hyde told the media after Saturday's win. "Pitching at the big league level is so many different things. The hitters are too good."
Baltimore's offense also has been inconsistent this season, but Dwight Smith, Jr. has been one of the bright spots. He now has six homers and 22 RBIs after a solo homer Saturday.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 6, 2019