The Boston Red Sox are skidding at the worst possible time.
The visiting Red Sox (88-69) will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak when they play the second of a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles (51-106) on Wednesday.
Boston is two games behind the New York Yankees (90-67) for the top wild card spot in the American League and maintains a half-game lead on the Seattle Mariners (88-70) and a one-game edge over the Toronto Blue Jays (87-70) for the second wild card.
The Red Sox had won 12 of 13 against Baltimore entering Tuesday and had ace Chris Sale on the mound, but the last-place Orioles rallied for a 4-2 win.
“There’s no doubt we’ve been getting (dragged) through the mud the past four days,” Sale said. “We know where we’re at; we know what we’re up against.”
Boston right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (10-9, 3.88 ERA) opposes rookie left-hander Zac Lowther (1-2, 7.66) on Wednesday.
The Red Sox had won six straight Eovaldi starts before his last outing. On Sept. 24 against the New York Yankees, Eovaldi allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, his shortest start of the season. He had given up three earned runs or fewer in his eight previous starts.
“The good ones, they have bad ones,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Eovaldi lost to the Orioles back on April 2 despite giving up one run in 5 1/3 innings. In 14 career starts against Baltimore, he is 6-2 with a 4.06 ERA.
Lowther earned his first major league win on Sept. 23, with five scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers. However, he is 0-1 with a 15.88 ERA in two starts this season against the Red Sox, allowing 10 runs on 12 hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
On Tuesday night, Bruce Zimmermann pitched four innings in his return from the injured list, four Orioles pitchers limited Boston to three hits and the last 12 Red Sox batters went down in order.
“Playing spoiler is a lot of fun,” Zimmermann said.
Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe homered for Boston, but it wasn’t enough.
“I think we pitched well. Offensively we didn’t do much,” Cora said. “There were a lot of empty at-bats. We didn’t put pressure on them. We’re an offensive team. And we’re a lot better than what we showed today. A lot of quick outs.”
Boston has scored three runs or fewer in each of its past four games.
Renfroe, however, is 12-for-36 (.333) over his past 10 games, with two homers and seven RBIs.
Baltimore rallied from a 2-0 deficit in a three-run sixth Tuesday, chasing Sale. Ryan Mountcastle hit his 32nd home run of the season.
“We did some good things offensively against one of the elite starters in this game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I just want to be competitive. We’re facing good teams that put themselves in a great position to play in October. Hopefully one day we’re going to be in that spot.”
Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander, who had 18 homers and 50 RBIs in 110 games, was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right knee sprain, ending his season.
Boston reliever Garrett Whitlock, who is on the 10-day injured list (right pectoral strain), threw on flat ground Tuesday, but it is unlikely he will return Thursday when he is eligible, Cora said.
–Field Level Media