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How rest of AL East views Red Sox at All-Star break: ‘I hope they don’t figure it out’ 07.14.15 at 7:25 pm ET
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Zach Britton (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Zach Britton’s Orioles are in the hunt for another postseason bid. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — All is not lost for the 2015 Boston Red Sox. Just ask the best players from their competition in the AL East.

When the Red Sox return from the break in Anaheim on Friday, they’ll do so with a 42-47 record, 6 1/2 games behind front-running New York in the division.

They sent just one player to the Midsummer Classic, and he was a utility player in Brock Holt. Certainly Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez could have all made cases, and even Manny Machado thinks Bogaerts should’ve been here.

But when the team reassembles on Friday, those players will be together and have 73 games to figure things out.

The Yankees are 48-40, with a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay. The Orioles, the defending division champs are treading water at 44-44, four games back in third. Toronto, which blazed to an 11-game winning streak, has cooled mightily since, posting just an 11-16 mark and heading into the break at 45-46. They are 4 1/2 games back.

Then there are the Red Sox.

“I think they’re a good team,” Red Sox killer and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson told WEEI.com Tuesday. “Obviously, they have pieces there that are well thought of. Honestly, I hope they don’t figure it out because I want my team to figure it out.

“What’s cool about it is every team has a lot of talent. But on the other side of the coin, teams have weaknesses. Certain teams in our division match up better against other teams. With that being said, I feel like it’s going to be one of those things that comes down to the wire. It’s going to be a war of attrition, whoever can stay the healthiest. Everybody is kind of right there in the mix. Every team has the capabilities of going on their stretches, too.”

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Josh Donaldson, Mark Teixeira
Red Sox-Orioles series preview 06.23.15 at 9:41 am ET
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Manny Machado (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Orioles infielder Manny Machado is hitting .378/427/.634 this month. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Coming off of a series win vs. the Royals and four wins in their last six games, the Red Sox will look to keep their momentum against the team that began Boston’s season-high seven-game losing streak earlier this month, the Orioles.

The Red Sox sit in the AL East basement at 31-40, 8 1/2 games back of the first-place Rays. When they began their last series with the Orioles on June 9, both teams were fighting to stay out of the division’s cellar. The Orioles emerged with a sweep and sent the Red Sox back to Boston, where they dropped their next three contests to the Blue Jays. Since then, the Orioles and Blue Jays have turned their seasons around, closing to within 2 1/2 games of the division lead, while the Red Sox face the immediate challenge of trying to get back to .500.

“€œI think we’re remaining optimistic about the team,’€” Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen said last week on Dennis & Callahan. “€œI think nobody’s happy where we’€™re sitting here today. You know, it’s unfortunate, and we deserve to be where we are. We haven’t played very well on the course of the season.”

Against the Royals this past weekend, the Red Sox took advantage of a depleted KC starting rotation, as both of their wins in the series came against rotation fill-ins. The Red Sox scored 24 runs against the Royals, their highest three-game series total of the season. As a team in the last seven days, they have slashed .328/.379/.552, good for the best team OPS in baseball over that stretch. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Orioles have been just as good lately, clubbing 14 home runs in their last seven games, second only to the Astros’ 20.

For the season, the Orioles have the fifth-most home runs and score the third-most runs per game in the majors. The O’s have the fifth-highest isolated power in baseball and they start six players with an ISO rating above the league average of .147.

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Read More: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, J.J. Hardy
Red Sox-Orioles series preview 06.09.15 at 9:26 am ET
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Zach Britton (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Orioles closer Zach Britton has converted his last 10 save opportunities and carries a 1.96 ERA on the season. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Coming off of their first series sweep of the season over the Athletics, the Red Sox will carry their momentum to Baltimore for a three-game set with the Orioles.

With a 5-2 record, the Red Sox have had a stellar opening to June after a miserable May. They sit at 27-31, sandwiched between the Orioles and the Blue Jays in fourth place in the underwhelming AL East. Despite their losing mark, the Red Sox are just 5 1/2 games back of the first-place Yankees.

Though not the best measure of success, the Red Sox had the best series of their season against the cellar-dwelling Athletics this past weekend. Wade Miley and Joe Kelly each turned in quality starts that resulted in wins. Meanwhile, the bullpen was lights out, allowing just one earned run in nine innings of work. Then the Red Sox bats came alive Sunday, scoring seven runs in the eighth-inning to rally for a 7-4 victory.

The Red Sox have been unable to sustain momentum this season, but they have a great opportunity this week to string together some wins against an Orioles team that is 4-6 in its last 10 and sits in last place in the AL East. The O’s are coming off of a series win against the Indians but dropped three out of four against the Astros to open June. Though they hold a narrow edge over the Red Sox with a 4-3 record in seven meetings this season, the O’s will face a much-improved Red Sox rotation this week.

Similar to the Red Sox, the Orioles’ major problem is their underperforming rotation, which ranks 23rd in the majors with a 4.16 FIP, worse than the Red Sox’ 4.11 mark. Baltimore pitching has fallen victim to the long ball this season, as the O’s give up 1.1 home runs per nine innings, the fourth-worst mark in the majors. The Orioles also struggle to keep runners off base, as they allow 3.2 free passes per nine innings. This walk rate plus home run prevention problems adds up to a team prone to giving up runs in bunches.

Though their offense has fallen short compared to recent seasons, the Orioles still have the characteristic big boppers that helped them to a 96-66 record last season. Led by Chris Davis, of 53 home run fame in 2013, the O’s own the seventh-best isolated power offense in the majors. Three of their regulars have hit nine home runs this season: Davis (12), Manny Machado (9) and Adam Jones (9).

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Read More: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter
Closing Time: Inconsistency continues for Red Sox in latest loss 04.26.15 at 4:50 pm ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

The Red Sox‘ starting pitching roller coaster keeps on rolling.

This time the group’s downturn came in the form of Wade Miley’s 2 1/3-inning horror show. This time the lefty second sub-three-inning outing of the season led to a 18-7 Orioles rout of the Red Sox.

Miley was forced from the start in the third inning, in which the hosts put up a six-spot on the scoreboard. The Sox starter was ultimately charged with seven runs (six earned) on five hits and two walks. His ERA now stands at 8.62, having not pitched past 5 2/3 innings in any of his four starts.

It marks the sixth time in 19 games the Red Sox starting pitcher has allowed five or more runs. The rotation carries a 5.94 ERA, worst in the major leagues, with Joe Kelly leading the way with a 4.08 ERA, followed by Clay Buchholz (4.84), Justin Masterson (5.16) and Rick Porcello (6.48).

The loss hands the Red Sox a 2-4 road trip, having won the first game of both their series against the Rays and Orioles before dropping the final two. The Red Sox starters finished the two-series swing with a 5.31 ERA, coming away with three quality starts.

The Red Sox head home out of first-place, standing at 10-9, as Tampa Bay (11-8) holds that top stop, which has won five straight after losing its season opener to the Sox.

Not helping matters was the ineffective work of the bullpen after Miley, with newly-recalled Heath Hembree taking the brunt of the damage, giving up 11 runs in 6 2/3 innings. The righty let the game get out of hand, giving up six runs in 1 1/3 frames.

It marked the fifth straight game the bullpen gave up at least one run. For the road trip, Sox relievers pitched 20 2/3 innings and allowed 17 runs on 31 hits.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The entire Orioles lineup. The group batted around twice, with every starter but one coming away with a multiple hit day.

Here’s what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ latest loss:

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, wade miley,
Closing Time: Brock Holt’s 3-run homer snaps tie, leads Red Sox over Orioles 04.24.15 at 10:39 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Through the first 16 games of the season, the Red Sox have made it a habit to capitalize on their opponents mistakes.

Friday was no different, as the Red Sox were given an extra out on a Manny Machado error with two outs in the eighth inning and the next batter, Brock Holt, made him pay with a three-run home run. The homer snapped a 4-4 tie and gave the Red Sox an eventual 7-5 win over the Orioles.

Pablo Sandoval worked a two-out walk and then pinch-hitter Allen Craig’s grounder got by Machado at third, which was ruled an error. Holt then stepped in and belted a three-run home run over the wall in right. It was his first homer of the season.

With a three-run lead, Junichi Tazawa allowed a solo home run to Chris Davis in the eighth, but fortunately it was just a solo home run and then Koji Uehara came on for a scoreless ninth to pick up the save.

It was an up-and-down outing for Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who made it into the seventh inning, but couldn’t record an out. He allowed the first two batters to reach and was pulled in favor of Craig Breslow. Breslow allowed one of the inherited runners to score, which tied the game at four.

Porcello went six-plus innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven. For the first time this season he didn’t eclipse the 100-pitch mark, as he was removed after throwing 91 pitches. He was given a two-run lead going into the fifth, but allowed single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to take a no-decision.

The Red Sox have now won all six series openers this season.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Holt. His home run snapped the four-all tie in the eighth inning. He finished the game 2-for-4 and is now hitting .424 on the year.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, rick porcello
Red Sox-Orioles series preview at 11:38 am ET
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The Red Sox and Orioles split their four-game series last weekend at Fenway Park. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox and Orioles split their four-game series last weekend at Fenway Park. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox will make their first trip of 2015 to Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series with the Orioles starting Friday night. The two teams split their first series of the year at Fenway Park last weekend. Boston currently is in a three-way tie for first in the AL East, but the top and bottom spots in the division are separated by just two games.

Despite the division lead, the Sox have struggled on the mound and have not had the offensive consistency many expected at the beginning of the season. The pitching staff is ranked 23rd in the league with a 4.31 ERA, 13th with a 1.26 WHIP, and 11th with a .239 batting average against. No Red Sox starter has an ERA below 4.00, and Joe Kelly (4.08) and Clay Buchholz (4.84) are the only starters with an ERA below 5.50.

Boston’s bats have been able to win some games for the team, but have yet to live up to what was expected of them. They are tied for sixth in baseball with 77 runs and tied for 10th with 15 home runs, but there have not been enough base runners to expect this productivity to continue. The Sox are ranked 19th with a .230 team average and 18th with a .669 OPS. Just two Red Sox hitters (Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts) have averages over .263 and only three (Holt, Bogaerts, Ryan Hanigan) have OBPs of at least .350. Over the last seven days, just Holt and Hanigan have an average over .250.

Hanley Ramirez is tied for second in the American League with five home runs.

Shane Victorino is listed as day-to-day with hamstring tightness.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Red Sox,
John Farrell, Buck Showalter know their teams will be at each other all season 04.20.15 at 10:31 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot's Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot’s Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

From the moment Buck Showalter‘s Orioles shocked the Red Sox and helped complete the greatest collapse in baseball history in 2011, the Orioles and Red Sox have been at each other’s throats.

In 2012, the Orioles eliminated the Rangers in the AL wild card game, taking the Yankees to the limit in five games before bowing out in the ALDS.

In 2013, the Red Sox won the World Series. In 2014, the Orioles won the AL East and made it to the American League Championship Series before bowing out to the Royals.

Now, the two AL East rivals appeared poised to battle each other over the long course of the season for supremacy in their division. Entering Monday’s series finale, the two teams stood at 7-5 after the Orioles won two of the first three games.

The first three games featured equal parts gamesmanship and respect from Showalter and Red Sox skipper John Farrell. So, when the Red Sox pulled out a 7-1 rain-shortened win to split the series and head to Tampa Bay with some first-place momentum, Farrell was happy to provide some very early season perspective on the Orioles and the rest of the division.

“Big win? “Sure it is. They’re a good team,” Farrell said. “I would imagine we’re going to be neck-and-neck with most everybody in this division throughout. And anytime you can come away in the final game of a series to earn a split, whether it’s home or road, it sends us off on a positive note. We’re going to end up right back there at the end of this week, going up against them for three.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, John Farrell
David Ortiz blasts Jim Palmer over critical tweets: ‘All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh?’ at 4:33 pm ET
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David Ortiz has a bone to pick with Jim Palmer.

The hall of fame pitcher and long time Orioles broadcaster criticized David Ortiz on Twitter Sunday after he flipped his bat and dropped it at the plate after a check-swing that was call strike two by third base umpire Jerry Meals.

Meals yelled at Ortiz long distance and Ortiz returned the favor. When home plate umpire John Tumpane (filling in for Paul Emmel) interceded, Ortiz got in Tumpane’s face and was ejected.

Palmer tweeted: FINALLY Oritz gets tossed with hashtags that included #ZipitOrtiz and #disrespectful. Then, early Monday, Palmer tweeted another not-so thinly veiled shot at Ortiz: O’s fans: Marathon day in Boston. What’s the over under on Ortiz going 9?

Ortiz, asked about Palmer by ESPN’s Gordon Edes after Monday’s rain-shortened 7-1 win, didn’t hold back.

“Actually, I thought he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who want to get paid, make some noise and come to Papi, right? All right.”

Edes then attempted to provide some perspective and context to the tweet on behalf of Palmer, suggesting Palmer wasn’t hating on Ortiz.

“Oh no?,” Ortiz said, before offering some advice to Palmer, “I don’t need your help. [If] he wants me to respect him, it ain’t going to happen.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Jim Palmer
Closing Time: Red Sox take advantage of Orioles mistakes in rain-shortened Patriots Day win at 3:07 pm ET
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Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lineup is dangerous with the standard three outs. Give them more than three outs is asking for disaster.

Taking full advantage of getting extra outs, the Red Sox rolled to a 7-1 win over the Orioles on Patriots Day at Fenway Park. The game was stopped because of rain the the middle of the seventh inning at 1:25 p.m., and officially called at 3:08 p.m.

Baltimore committed three errors leading to five unearned runs.

The Red Sox batted around in the third inning, scoring five unearned runs, while only recording one hit in the frame. Orioles Starter Wei-Yin Chen misplayed a Mookie Betts come-backer allowing the first run to score, and then later in the inning with two outs, third baseman Manny Machado misplayed a Shane Victorino grounder down the line allowing two more runs to score.

“The errors kid of gift-wrapped or built into the four-run inning along with some base on balls were built into the four-run inning along with some base on balls,” manager John Farrell said. “At this level you get extra outs you’re asking for trouble and it’s happened to us defensively. Hopefully we stay on the positive side of it.”

Chen went 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (all unearned) on just three hits, but he walked five.

Red Sox starter Justin Masterson delivered his best start of the season, allowing one run over five innings, while picking up six strikeouts. His fastball averaged in the high-80’s, but he was able to have success with a good slider keeping the Orioles hitters off balance.

“He battled the elements and was able to use his fastball-slider combination effectively,” Farrell said. “I think the most impressive thing was he had a couple of long innings and he was still able to come out and get loose and keep the feel of the baseball on a day where the conditions probably weren’t the greatest.”

The Red Sox improved to 69-51 on Patriots Day and have won 11 of the last 15 since 2001.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Betts. The center fielder once again was a spark plug at the top of the order, giving the Red Sox momentum from the start, stealing second, taking third on an error and scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. He went 1-for-4 overall, but reached base twice while scoring two runs.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, justin masterson, mookie betts
Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman take swipes at ‘forever’ pace of Clay Buchholz 04.18.15 at 11:37 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his six innings, taking 102 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman
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