Wright, Red Sox aim to continue to fluster Orioles
BOSTON — The Baltimore Orioles found it very difficult to hit knuckleballer Steven Wright in his two starts against them last season.
The Boston Red Sox have never really had much trouble hitting veteran right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
The righties hook up Wednesday night in the finale of a two-game series at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox got a strong start from Drew Pomeranz and broke up a tight game late to cruise to an 8-1 victory over Baltimore on Tuesday night, raising their record to 4-3 (3-0 at home). The Orioles dropped their second straight to fall to 4-2.
Wright beat the Orioles twice in as many appearances last year, allowing five earned runs in 16 1/3 innings against a potent offensive team that has ugly numbers against him up and down the lineup.
Jimenez is 2-6 with a 6.82 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox, 1-3 with a 6.09 ERA at Fenway Park. Against Jimenez, Mookie Betts is 8-for-19 (.421), Xander Bogaerts 7-for-20 (.350), Dustin Pedroia 11-for-32 (.344) and Pablo Sandoval 14-for-39 (.359) with two home runs.
The Red Sox, who are seeing players return from a flu epidemic but are still missing center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (knee), pounded out 16 hits to win Tuesday.
“We’re happy to get back the guys like Hanley (Ramirez) and Bogey (Bogaerts),” said Christian Vazquez, who matched his career high with four hits Tuesday night. “We missed them in Detroit, and we’re happy to get (them) back.”
The Red Sox catchers are a combined 12-for-24 with seven RBIs and five runs in the first seven games of the season.
The Orioles jumped out to a 4-0 start, but with Zach Britton and Brad Brach both unavailable Sunday after working two straight days, the bullpen allowed four runs to the Yankees in the ninth inning for a 7-3 loss.
Tuesday night was the second straight rough ride for Baltimore reliever Darren O’Day, but this one was fueled by J.J. Hardy booting a routine double-play ball — one of two errors in the seventh inning.
“It just wasn’t crisp, and I know our guys are disappointed in it, but we’ll be all right,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We had some run-scoring opportunities and didn’t push anything across against a good club like Boston that you need to do.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell knows it will take a bit of time for his flu-ridden hitters to get their timing back.
“It looked like to me that Mookie (Betts) was starting to get a little more timing with each successive at-bat,” Farrell said. “Those are going to be key for our middle of the order guys to get back in the flow of things. In the middle of it all as they’re getting going, Mitch (Moreland) continues to swing the bat very well.”
Moreland, 0-for-9 with five strikeouts in the opening two games at home to start the season, has hit in five straight, with at least one double in all five games. That matches Dave Stapleton for the longest such streak by a Red Sox first baseman since 1913.