The Boston Red Sox hurt one division foes playoff chances over the weekend. They'll look to do the same to another on Tuesday and move one step closer to an American League East title in the process, as the Red Sox kick off a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.
Boston capped an impressive sweep of the New York Yankees on Sunday, as Clay Buchholz remained undefeated and Daniel Nava went 4-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI to help the Red Sox to a 9-2 rout.
"Our confidence continues to grow, and that's not to take anything for granted, or a matter of our guys thinking that someone is not going to pitch a good game against us or play a good game against us," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's just a matter of this group believes in itself and it continues to show up between the lines."
And why not? Overall, Boston has won five of its past six games, 10 of its last 12 and 17 of 21. Thanks to their recent run, the Red Sox' magic number to clinch the AL East is at four.
Hoping to slice it even further on Tuesday will be righty Ryan Dempster, who is 8-9 with a 4.70 ERA. Dempster did not get a decision versus Tampa Bay on Wednesday, as he allowed just a run in five innings, but also walked five batters in his team's 7-3 win.
Dempster, who is 2-1 in five starts against the Orioles, has completed seven innings only once since June 14
Baltimore, meanwhile, bounced back from losing three in a row to the Yankees to take two of three from Toronto, culminating with a 3-1 win on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
Danny Valencia hit a two-run double and Nick Markakis went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored for the Orioles, who enter this series just two games back of the wild card.
Getting the call for the Orioles on Tuesday will be righty Scott Feldman, who is 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA since being acquired from the Cubs. Feldman was solid in a no-decision against the Yankees on Wednesday, as he allowed three runs and three hits in 7 2/3 innings of a 5-4 loss.
"I think that when you know where the ball is going, you can get some quicker outs that way," Feldman said Wednesday. "You can stay in the game a little longer."
Feldman is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in nine games (3 starts) against the Red Sox.
Baltimore has won seven of its 13 meetings with the Red Sox this season.