MLB: Orioles look to get right against Red Sox

Now that the Baltimore Orioles have shown they can compete with some of the American League’s top teams, they must demonstrate the ability to battle through rough stretches.

The Orioles seem to be in one of those downward swings, so they will try to find the right remedies against the Boston Red Sox in a series opener Friday night at Baltimore.

“I think we’ve just got to stay with it,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “You’ve just got to grind it out. Keep putting the work in and hopefully we get out of it here pretty quick.”

As much as the Orioles have had a revival this season, they also have hit some bumps. They have lost five of their last eight games, beginning with a one-game stopover in Boston that ended in a 4-3 defeat on Aug. 11.

The Red Sox, who are clinging to playoff contention, have won five of their past seven games despite an 8-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Thursday.

“We’re better than this,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We’re not going to win every game either. It’s going to happen.”

But with consecutive upcoming series against Baltimore, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays — all ahead of the Red Sox in the AL wild-card race — there should be a renewed sense of urgency.

“Now you’ve got to win series to gain ground,” Cora said. “It’s time to go.”

Offensive woes have resurfaced for the Orioles. That was evident again when Baltimore dropped the opener of its seven-game homestand with a 3-2 setback to the Chicago Cubs in a makeup game Thursday.

“We just didn’t take very many good at-bats (until the eighth inning),” Hyde said. “It’s tough to win 2-1, 3-2 in this league. We had some opportunities there in the eighth. We’re not stringing enough good at-bats together right now to give ourselves a chance.”

Some of the Orioles’ rough patches on offense might be leaking into other parts of play.

“It’s obviously easier to pitch when you have some breathing room, and we’re not having a ton of breathing room right now,” Hyde said. “We’ve got to get it going offensively.”

The Red Sox, who are 30-30 in road games, can relate to those types of shortcomings. In four of their eight defeats this month, they failed to score more than three runs.

“Our offense is underperforming,” designated hitter J.D. Martinez said.

Boston’s pitching might be in decent shape even with Nathan Eovaldi scratched from his scheduled Thursday start due to neck and shoulder discomfort. The Red Sox used just two pitchers in the series finale against the Pirates.

Right-hander Jordan Lyles (9-9, 4.48 ERA) will try to get the Orioles back on track on Friday. He has won in three of his past four starts, though he is coming off a loss Sunday at Tampa Bay, where he gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings despite registering a season-high nine strikeouts.

Lyles is 2-1 with a 5.31 ERA in six all-time starts vs. the Red Sox. That includes a victory and a no-decision in May as he surrendered a total of four runs and 16 hits (no home runs) in 10 1/3 innings.

Boston will have right-hander Kutter Crawford (3-4, 4.18 ERA) as its starter.

Since the start of July, Crawford has lasted at least five innings in each of his eight outings. However, on May 1 at Baltimore, he was charged with two runs without recording an out in a relief stint. That was the only time he has faced the Orioles.

–Field Level Media

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