The Red Sox took care of business against the Toronto Blue Jays. A hiccup in game two of the series cost them a series sweep. Now the Red Sox travel to Baltimore for a three-game series in which they will want to keep up the momentum. That momentum is crucial heading into 14 games against their biggest rivals for the division: the Rays and Yankees.
Cashner will return to the place where he has had plenty of success this season. The right-handed pitcher has a 3.49 ERA in six starts and 36 1/3 innings. In addition, he is 4-0 in those six starts at Camden Yards, and will be looking to add to that for his new team in this series.
John Means has been absolutely incredible this season, with a 2.94 ERA. His performances at home have been slightly better than on the road. In Camden Yards he has a 2.50 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings. He had a rough time last time out against the Rays, allowing six earned runs, with three home runs. That was as many home runs in one start as he had allowed in the 44 1/3 innings he had pitched at home. Getting a win against Means is not going to be easy.
Both Eshelman and Wojciechowski come into their starts with a relative lack of major league experience this season. Eshelman will be making just his third start, having allowed six earned runs across 10 2/3 innings in two starts against the Rays. After succeeding at Triple-A for the Phillies (2.77 ERA) he has struggled at the same level with the Orioles (4.44 ERA). Wojciechowski will be making the 14th start of his career, with those spread across three major league seasons stretching back to 2015. His 6.49 ERA suggests the Red Sox should be able to have success.
The Orioles have not been great with the bat this season, but their numbers have been slightly better at home. They have scored 12 more runs, have a .009 better batting average, a .031 better ISO, and a wRC+ that is 12 points higher at home than on the road. The numbers are still not incredible, but they are better, and the Red Sox need to be wary that this team can be frisky at home.
We have mentioned the struggles of Andrew Benintendi at times this season, but he has been incredible in one area with the bat. With runners in scoring position, Benintendi has a .342 batting average, with 32 RBI. If we look at clutch situations, such as bases loaded and RISP with two outs, things get even better. In bases-loaded situations he is hitting .625 with 12 RBI in nine PA. With RISP and two outs, he has a .395 batting average and 22 RBI. For a player who is not firing on all cylinders, it is fantastic to see that in clutch situations he is coming up big.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: So Cashner’s first start as a Red Sox did not go to plan, allowing five earned runs in five innings against the Blue Jays. The Red Sox will be hoping that a return to his old stomping ground can get him firing on all cylinders. They will also be hoping to get Rick Porcello‘s form turned around, as they will need their two right-handed starters firing in the second half.
Hitting: The game with Means on the mound will be tough, but the Red Sox will be hoping to cash in in games two and three. I have highlighted their numbers against right-handed pitchers numerous times this season, and they will need to perform to full expectations against them, as what they might get out of Porcello and Cashner is an unknown at this point.
The Blue Jays series victory has ensured the Red Sox remain within 10 games of the Yankees, but with no slowing up in New York, they need to keep the pedal to the floor. With 14 games coming up against their biggest rivals in the AL East they need a big series to ensure momentum is behind them.
If the Orioles cause major problems for the Red Sox then they probably do not deserve to be remaining in contention. The Red Sox will be hoping to give Means more headaches in the first game of the series, before going hard after the two righties in the last two games. Hopefully, this can be a series sweep for the Red Sox.