Still fighting an uphill battle as they try to claw their way back to .500, the Boston Red Sox attempt to regroup and make a quick turn- around as they clash with the surprising Baltimore Orioles in the second of a three-game set at Fenway Park this afternoon.
Boston, currently last in the American League East, is dealing with a three- game slide after bowing to the O's in 13 innings on Friday, 6-4. Losers of four of the last five outings overall, the Sox used a total of seven pitchers and it was Franklin Morales who was charged with the loss as he gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in just 2/3 innings of action on Friday.
Starting pitcher Jon Lester permitted three runs on five hits and walked three, while striking out only two over six innings of action for the hosts as they dropped to 4-8 at home and are now the only team in the division with a negative scoring differential (-3).
Of the eight hits produced by Boston, three came courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez and a pair from Dustin Pedroia, while Cody Ross knocked in one run and scored another for the club.
The Orioles, currently second in the AL East and just 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for first place, were sparked by Chris Davis who hit a go-ahead RBI single in the 13th inning as they registered their third straight victory and the fifth in six tries. Mark Reynolds, who added a sacrifice fly to score the second run in the final inning, also hit a solo home run in the meeting while Matt Wieters plated a pair in the outing as well.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was touched for three earned runs on five hits and three walks, striking out four over the course of five innings. Troy Patton was credited with the victory in relief and Jim Johnson notched his eighth save of the campaign.
"I feel like those guys are feeding off each other, continuing to put up zeroes and are having good outings," Patton noted about the bullpen.
Getting the call to the hill for the Orioles this afternoon is South Carolina native Jason Hammel who is trying to bounce back from his first loss of the campaign. The right-hander, who opened 2012 with three wins in as many decisions, bowed to the New York Yankees on the road earlier this week in a 2-1 decision during which he allowed five hits and a pair of walks, while striking out five in six innings of work.
Sporting a record of just 4-8 during the month of May during his career, Hammel has appeared in nine games previously against the Red Sox and has an 0-2 mark and a 6.14 ERA to show for his efforts.
Originally, Josh Beckett was slated to start for the Red Sox this afternoon, but manager Bobby Valentine has the hurler taking a seat in order to rest from soreness. In his place will be Aaron Cook who is getting the call-up from Triple-A Pawtucket where he's posted a 3-0 mark with a 1.89 ERA in five starts.
Cook, a veteran of 10 years in the big leagues, had been a mainstay with the Colorado Rockies where he developed a 72-68 record with a 4.53 ERA in 238 appearances. This is the first-ever outing for the right-hander against Baltimore.
Boston's pitching staff has been roughed up quite a bit so far this season, showing a team ERA of 5.38 which is second-to-last in the AL. Opponents are hitting .273 against the club.
The story is much different for the Baltimore hurlers who have the top ERA in the league at 2.79, the group allowing foes to bat only .228 against them.
Since 2009 when the Red Sox won a staggering 16 of the 18 meetings between the clubs, there's been much more balance in the series, with Boston holding a slim 19-18 edge versus the O's.