It has been over two months since the last time the Boston Red Sox were looking up at someone in the AL East standings. Such was the case when they woke up in Baltimore this morning after falling 6-0 to the Orioles and watched as the Tampa Bay Rays crushed the Yankees in the Bronx to take over the top spot.
Boston (61-43) has been struggling since returning from the break, going 3-4, all against teams from the East. In their last 10 games, the Red Sox have hit .213 as a team and have scored just one run total in three of their last four games. Since the break, the Sox have scored 21 runs in 63 innings, an average of three runs per nine innings; this after leading the majors in runs scored with 498 prior to the break. The Sox still lead MLB with 519 runs and are one of only two teams above 500 runs scored (Detroit 511), but the bats have been missing as of late, causing a stir among Red Sox Nation.
The Red Sox will attempt to wake the bats up against the Orioles (58-46) tonight and try to even the series at one apiece. They do so behind Ryan Dempster, who takes the mound with a 5-8 record and 4.28 ERA. Dempster had an impressive outing his last time in Baltimore, going 7.2 innings and allowing just two runs on five hits, but took the loss anyway. He has had four straight no-decisions with his last win coming June 25 against Colorado.
Here is the lineup the Red Sox roll out tonight at Oriole Park at Camden Yards (first pitch – 7:05 pm EDT):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Carp, LF
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Drew, SS
9. Iglesias, 3B
New Oriole pitcher Scott Feldman makes his fifth start for Baltimore since being traded by the Cubs. Feldman is 2-1 with a 4.73 ERA since joining the Os with both of his wins coming in his last two starts. For the season, he is 9-7 with a 3.75 ERA between Chicago and Baltimore.
It appears the AL East will come down to three teams – Boston, Baltimore and Tampa Bay – as the trio are separated by 3.5 games. Each team could wind up making the playoffs, with two of them potentially facing off in the one-game Wild Card play-in game. With the new rules in place, the winner of that could end up facing the other East Division team in the ALDS because the play-in game winner squares off against the team with the overall best record in the American League. For those who argue adding an additional team to the postseason is a bad thing, let this be a counterpoint proving that winning your division is that much more crucial.
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