The strong pitching that allowed the Boston Red Sox to win 16 of 20 and open up a lead in the American League East that reached as much as 5 1/2 games has disappeared, and a few key injuries are starting to take a toll on the offense as well. The Red Sox will try to avoid a three-game sweep when they host the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
Boston pitchers - along with some spotty defense - allowed opponents to put up a total of 36 runs in the last three games, culminating in a 7-0 shutout on Saturday. Three stalwarts in the rotation - Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez - all took a turn getting knocked around while the offense saw Jackie Bradley Jr. (thumb) join Dustin Pedroia (knee) on the disabled list and watched Eduardo Nunez (wrist, thumb) and Mookie Betts (knee) leave games during the rough stretch. The Orioles needed a good showing in Fenway Park to stay afloat in a crowded race for the second AL wild card and can reach .500 by polishing off the sweep. Baltimore, which sits two games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild card, will send lefty Wade Miley to the mound on Saturday opposite Red Sox righty Doug Fister.
TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, MASN (Baltimore), NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles LH Wade Miley (7-10, 5.11 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Doug Fister (3-6, 4.78)
Miley allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last five starts and is coming off a win over Oakland in which he scattered two runs and five hits over six frames. The Louisiana native is still struggling with his control and issued at least three walks in each of his last four turns to bring his season total to 76 in 132 innings. The last time Miley went at least seven innings came at home against Boston on June 1, when he walked one and allowed one run and five hits in seven frames to earn the win.
Fister is coming off the best start of his career - a complete-game effort at Cleveland on Monday in which he faced the minimum over the final eight innings. The California native surrendered a home run to Francisco Lindor leading off the contest and did not allow a hit the rest of the way while breezing through nine innings in 114 pitches. Fister is seeing Baltimore for the first time this season and is 4-2 with a 4.47 ERA in nine career games - eight starts - against the Orioles.
1. Orioles 2B Jonathan Schoop recorded his 95th RBI on Saturday, surpassing Roberto Alomar for the franchise record by a second baseman.
2. Boston DH Hanley Ramirez is 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in his last three starts.
3. Baltimore SS Tim Beckham hit safely in each of the last five games and 22 of 24 since joining the team.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 7, Orioles 4