Boston at Baltimore
Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore
BALTIMORE – Although the Boston Red Sox lost for the first time this month in their last outing, Mookie Betts only enhanced his candidacy for American League MVP. The three-time All-Star looks to get his Red Sox back on the winning track Friday when they visit the Baltimore Orioles for the opener of a four-game set.
Betts became the 21st Red Sox player to hit for the cycle and the first in the major leagues this season during Boston’s 8-5 defeat in Toronto, which ended the club’s six-game winning streak. The 25-year-old former fifth-round pick, who has scored twice in four straight games, also went 4-for-4 with a walk to improve to 13-for-28 in August and is batting a majors-best .347 for the season – 16 points better than teammate J.D. Martinez. The Red Sox still own the best record in baseball at 81-35 and stand a good chance of bouncing back against Baltimore (35-80), which retained its title as the worst team in baseball with Thursday’s 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay in the rubber match of their three-game series. The Orioles have dropped 10 of their 12 meetings with the Red Sox this season, scoring three runs or fewer nine times.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), MASN2 (Baltimore)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.38 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Dylan Bundy (7-10, 4.38)
Eovaldi became the first Boston starter since Vaughn Eshelman in 1995 to record consecutive scoreless outings to begin his Red Sox career on Saturday, moving to 2-0 after blanking the New York Yankees over eight innings of work. “His stuff is probably some of the best in the big leagues. The fact that he can use his stuff on the edges of the strike zone is impressive,” manager Alex Cora told MLB.com. Mark Trumbo is 5-for-8 with two doubles versus Eovaldi, who is 2-0 with a 4.33 ERA in five starts against Baltimore.
Bundy logged his second straight quality start in a loss at Texas on Saturday, permitting two runs (one earned) while fanning six over six innings. The 25-year-old Oklahoman has surrendered at least one home run in five consecutive outings – he’s given up nine total over that span – and leads the majors with 27 homers allowed. Betts (7-for-29, three home runs) is one of eight active Red Sox with at least one homer against Bundy, who is 0-2 despite a 2.29 ERA in three starts versus Boston this season.
1. Martinez needs to drive in one more run to become the ninth Red Sox to record at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in his first season with the team.
2. Trumbo is batting .364 with four homers and 13 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak.
3. Boston lost for the first time in 15 games started by C Sandy Leon on Thursday. Despite the setback, the club has won 25 of his last 27 starts.