xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Orioles return to Fenway as Machado stays hot; Schoop improves at Bowie

The Orioles will open their three-game series against the Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park. They swept the Red Sox two weeks ago in Baltimore, but Boston is coming off a road series win over the American League Central-leading Kansas City Royals.

The Orioles have won seven of their 10 meetings with the Red Sox this season, splitting four games at Fenway Park in April during Patriots' Day weekend. And they've played very well in Boston, beating the Red Sox in eight of their last 11 series there.

Advertisement

Monday's day off came at the perfect time for a bullpen that accounted for 19 1/3 innings over their three-game series in Toronto this past weekend. They needed a day of rest, and because of that, the Orioles likely won't make a roster move coming into today's game in Boston.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter will say that everyone is available in the 'pen.

Darren O'Day had back-to-back high-pressure outings, working his way out of eighth-inning jams in a tied ballgame on both Saturday and Sunday. He threw a total of 42 pitches in those appearances, but will likely be available today. Brad Brach and Chaz Roe also pitched Saturday and Sunday.

The Orioles have two really fresh arms in the bullpen in right-handers Oliver Drake and Mychal Givens. The team will have to make room to activate Miguel Gonzalez from the disabled list to start Thursday and recall Wei-Yin Chen to start Friday, so their time here could be short – even shorter if the bullpen gets overworked early on in Boston.

But how about this stat? Even after relievers allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings Sunday, the Orioles bullpen owns a 2.04 ERA since April 29.

Machado stays hot

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado didn't win his second straight AL Player of the Week award – Boston's Mookie Betts received the honor -- even though Machado batted .448 (13-for-29) with three home runs and eight RBIs over the past week.

I really think that when the Orioles offense is going well, it all starts with Machado. Combine that with some better production from the No. 2 spot and it trickles down to the middle of the order.

Advertisement

Over his past 15 games, Machado is hitting .452 (28-for-62) with six homers and 15 RBIs. His season on-base percentage is up to .361, and he's doing all the little things offensively you need from a top-of-the-order catalyst, bunting for base hits and stealing bases.

There's no doubt Machado deserves to be an All-Star. Josh Donaldson is having a great year in Toronto (.302, 17 HR, 46 RBIs) and Kansas City's Mike Moustakas is hitting .328 and leads AL third basemen in fan balloting, but Machado should also be in Cincinnati for the midsummer classic.

Schoop improves

The Orioles were a little surprised by Jonathan Schoop's struggles at the plate during his minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie. He was just 1-for-11 in his first three games for the Baysox.

But all it takes is one game, and Schoop went 3-for-4 on Monday, hitting two doubles and a solo homer.

Schoop has played four straight days at second base, which is slightly surprising since Showalter insisted that Schoop might get days off from playing the field early on, especially since he never played second in a game while rehabbing in extended spring training.

Advertisement

So it is safe to think Schoop is ahead of schedule? The Orioles have been very careful to not put a timeframe on his return. Showalter dodged around the question again on Sunday in Toronto. But Schoop has 16 days left in his minor league rehab window and might not need all of those games if he continues to progress.

That would give the Orioles a tremendous boost. Ryan Flaherty has done extremely well filling in for Schoop, but Schoop's power bat would give the bottom third of the batting order a big jolt.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement