It isn’t often that any major league team welcomes a four-game series at Fenway Park, but the Orioles have got to be hoping they’ll feel more at home on the road after their discouraging season-opening homestand.
They won just one of seven games at Camden Yards and spent most of the past week watching the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics leave ball marks all over the bleachers.
Orioles pitchers allowed 28 homers over that stretch, five of them in Thursday’s 8-5 loss to the A’s. The A’s and Yankees combined to average just over nine runs per game and left some seriously bruised young egos on the Orioles pitching staff.
It got so bad that the only reason for the tiny crowds to cheer for much of the past three games was to encourage Chris Davis in his attempts to snap his now-record streaks of hitless at-bats and plate appearances.
There really was nothing left to do but wax nostalgic about the season-opening road trip during which the Orioles won back-to-back series against the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.
Of course, they caught the Yankees reeling from a series of significant injuries and the Blue Jays fielding an even younger team than themselves. This weekend in Boston, they’ll find a talented team that is smarting from a disappointing 4-9 start and eager to vent some frustration on a rebuilding rival with a banged-up pitching staff.
The Red Sox rotation for the series features some ugly ERAs and — believe it or not — only zeroes in the win columns of Eduardo Rodríguez, Rick Porcello, David Price and Chris Sale. Three of those guys are ticked-off former Cy Young Award winners.
“I hope we’re an angry team that they’re running into,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He haven’t played our best baseball this last week. Played pretty good the first five games or so, but this past week hasn’t been our best [baseball].”
There’s already an upset here. The Orioles, who are in hardcore rebuilding mode and nestled in a fairly deep slump that dates to the final game of the successful Blue Jays series, still will arrive in Beantown with a better record than the red-faced Sox.
Here’s another quirky stat: The first three starters from the injury-ravaged Orioles pitching staff each will have a better record and ERA than their Red Sox counterparts.
The Orioles didn’t go down without a fight Thursday. They were trailing 7-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning and rallied for four runs to make it interesting. If not for a diving catch by right fielder Stephen Piscotty that robbed Jonathan Villar of an RBI double, it would have been a one-run game with the tying run at second base.
“I like the way we grinded out at-bats,” Hyde said. “I give it to our guys for fighting back into the game. We were scrappy. Piscotty makes a great play. That ball gets by him, you don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re down 7-1 and we get their closer in the game in the ninth inning.
“I was happy that we came back. I think we’re going to play like that. … I want to believe we’re going to play like that all year. I want to believe our guys have fight in them. I think our guys have shown that so far, and we’re going to continue.”
If there is any more consolation here, the Orioles did play well enough to win the second game of the Yankees series, which turned on a dramatic three-run homer by Clint Frazier in the eighth inning.
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They also delivered their only double-digit offensive performance of the year when they salvaged one of the four games against the A’s — a resounding 12-4 victory that featured a late five-run rally to break the game open.