Orioles starter Jake Arrieta appeared to get some confidence back in his last outing. He can do the same for his club today with a victory over the Boston Red Sox in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Baltimore's victorious Opening Day starter had been touched for 13 runs and 19 hits over 10 combined innings over back-to-back losses before an interleague outing versus the Nationals on Friday. Though Arrieta did not get a decision, the right-hander kept his team in a game it won 2-1 in extra innings by hurling seven innings of one-run ball, on a solo homer, and striking out a season high-tying nine batters.
The 26-year-old's record on the season remained at 2-4 through nine starts, while his earned run average dipped to 4.72.
Arrieta has faced the Red Sox three times prior in his career, going 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA while allowing five homers over 16 1/3 innings. He'll go for his first career victory against them while trying to slow down Adrian Gonzalez as the Boston slugger is 5-for-8 against him with a homer and two RBI.
Baltimore evened this series and avoided a third straight loss with last night's 4-1 victory that featured a gem from Brian Matusz, who threw 6 1/3 innings of two-hit ball, one a solo homer to Kevin Youkilis in the fourth inning. He also matched a career high with nine strikeouts and walked only one, setting the stage for Jim Johnson to eventually lock down his league- leading 16th save of the season.
Steve Tolleson and Wilson Betemit both hit two-run homers for the Orioles, who have won six of eight and still lead the American League East by two games over the Rays. They have also taken four of five this season from the Red Sox.
Tolleson and Betemit's homers upped Baltimore's major league-leading total to 67 on the season.
"I was really just trying to put the ball in play through the hole and move the runner over," remarked Tolleson of his second-inning home run that opened the scoring. "He gave me a pitch and I just reacted to it."
Felix Doubront served up Tolleson's homer and took the loss despite setting a new career best with nine strikeouts. He allowed two runs over six innings, but saw Boston's offense get held to a season-low two hits.
One of those was Youkilis' homer and it came after he was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day. Youkilis hadn't played since April 28, but got the start at first base to keep hot-hitting prospect Will Middlebrooks at third. Gonzalez, meanwhile, shifted from first to right field.
"That's a good a swing as I've seen Youk have," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine about Youkilis' homer. "Center field power and sprinting around the bases, that was a good sight."
Still, Boston had a three-game win streak end with only their third loss in 12 games, but it did drop them back below .500 at 21-22.
Daniel Bard hopes to avoid another slow start this afternoon and earn just his second victory over his last five outings for the Red Sox.
Bard is 1-3 in is last four starts, allowing four or more runs in each loss and walking 13 over his past 18 innings. The right-hander issued five walks over five innings in a 6-4 loss to the Phillies on Friday, including free passes to three of the first four batters faced before he eventually fixed an issue with his delivery.
"I'm still in reliever mode and I have to learn how to be more aggressive," Bard said of his disastrous opening frame. "This one is on me."
The 26-year-old yielded five runs and gave up just three hits, falling to 3-5 with a 4.85 ERA in eight games (7 starts) this season.
Though Bard will be making his first career start against the Orioles, he has plenty of experience out of the bullpen. He is 0-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 20 appearances, spanning 22 innings, with 27 strikeouts.
Baltimore's Adam Jones is 2-for-8 in his career versus Bard with a homer. He is hitting .339 (20-for-59) with six homers and 12 RBI over a career-high 14- game hitting streak.