The Red Sox are 5-1 in May and now head to Baltimore hoping to take advantage of the 12-22 Orioles.
5/6 Josh Smith vs. John Means (L) 7:05pm NESN
5/7 Ryan Weber vs. David Hess (R) 7:05pm NESN
5/8 Chris Sale vs. Andrew Cashner (R) 7:05pm NESN
Josh Smith will be making his first start of the season, and just the 10th of his career in the first game of the series. In three Triple-A starts this season he has a 3.78 ERA and has struck out 23 hitters in 16 2/3 innings. However, in his career as a major league starter, he has a 6.10 ERA and just 31 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.
Ryan Weber has been called up from Triple-A to take the spot of the injured David Price, who was placed on the disabled list on Monday. Weber has made eight major leagues starts in his career, with a 5.01 ERA. Additionally, in five starts at Triple-A, Weber has a 5.04 ERA this season.
John Means comes into this series with an impressive 2.81 ERA this season. However, as a starter his ERA is 3.70 compared to 1.15 as a reliever. In his last start against the Chicago White Sox he gave up four earned runs in just five innings. Additionally, he has struggled to strike hitters out as a starter, with just 12 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The Red Sox have faced both David Hess and Andrew Cashner earlier in this season. They have a 1-1 record, scoring three earned runs against each starter. The Red Sox hit one home run against each starter in that series. Andrew Benintendi took Hess deep, before Christian Vazquez did the same to Cashner.
In the month of May the Red Sox have scored a whopping 46 runs, averaging 7.67 runs per game. By contrast, in the first 29 games of the season they averaged just 4.46 runs per game.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Rotation: With Nathan Eovaldi on the shelf for a while longer after elbow surgery, the Red Sox need someone to step up. With David Price being the only regular starter with an ERA under 4.00, the Red Sox desperately need Smith to provide them a solid fifth option. That is especially the case now that Price is on the 10-day IL with elbow inflammation. They do not need him to be great, but they need solid performances.
Hitting: May has been a strong month for the Red Sox, but there is potentially still more to come. J.D. Martinez has just four home runs this season, all off left-handed pitchers. They will also be hoping that Michael Chavis can stay hot, as he has six home runs and 12 walks in 61 plate appearances.
The Red Sox have battled their way back to a 17-18 record entering this series. They are now just five games behind the Rays and are showing the form that we came to expect from them last season. Against a terrible Orioles team they have a great chance to keep their foot on the accelerator.
The Orioles pitching ranks last in both ERA and batting average against this season. Therefore, the Red Sox can hopefully hit their way past having to use two inexperienced pitchers to open this series. All eyes will then turn to Chris Sale, who has given up just four earned runs in his last three starts. There is a great opportunity here to get out of Camden Yards with another three wins.