Orioles-Red Sox Preview
Considering Baltimore's recent offensive mediocrity and Koji Uehara's dominance, the outlook didn't look great for the Orioles in the ninth inning of their series opener in Boston.
A late rally reversed those fortunes, however, something the Orioles hope to build on going into Wednesday night's meeting with the Red Sox.
Baltimore has struggled to come through with hits in key situations lately, going 22 for 116 (.190) with runners in scoring position during a 7-7 stretch, including an 0-for-6 mark Tuesday. Leading off the ninth, though, Danny Valencia provided a clutch hit with a triple, breaking Uehara's streak of 37 consecutive outs, four shy of the major league record for a reliever.
Matt Wieters followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the go-ahead run in the Orioles' 3-2 victory.
"You don't like your chances there with Koji, but we got a big hit from Danny," manager Buck Showalter said.
Chris Davis also hit his team-record 51st homer to help keep Baltimore (80-70) two games off the pace behind Texas and Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card chase. Boston's magic number fell to three despite the loss as the Rangers defeated the Rays.
The Red Sox (92-60) were held to three hits after averaging 10.3 during a 15-4 stretch. Boston figures to have a better chance offensively Wednesday considering the last time the club faced scheduled starter Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.99 ERA). The left-hander surrendered career worsts of eight runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 13-2 loss at Fenway Park on Aug. 27. Chen had been 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA through his first four career starts against the Red Sox.
Dustin Pedroia is 7 for 13 off him with three doubles.
Chen wasn't effective his last time out, either, yielding five runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees on Thursday. Eight of the first 14 batters he faced reached base.
"I should do a better job for the first three innings," Chen told the team's official website through his interpreter. "I tried to get my rhythm and tempo and timing back in my delivery. It was hard for me."
Boston starter Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.03) will also be looking to get back on track after two shaky outings in which he allowed seven runs in 12 innings with eight walks, failing to record a decision both times.
The veteran right-hander had gone 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his previous four starts while only issuing three walks over 27 2-3 innings.
"Just didn't have great command," Peavy said after matching a season high with five walks in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday. "My stuff was good. I just didn't throw enough strikes to pitch deeper into the ballgame."
Even if Peavy struggles with his control again, Baltimore is one of the majors' least disciplined teams at the plate. The Orioles average a walk every 14.9 plate appearances, baseball's worst rate.
Peavy is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts versus Baltimore. Davis is 0 for 2 against him while J.J. Hardy is 1 for 14 with four strikeouts.