|Orioles' improving offense takes aim at Red Sox|
The Baltimore Orioles have struggled on offense for much of 2019. However, their bats came alive the past two games, scoring 20 total runs while winning both contests.
They will try to keep the offense productive when they meet the visiting Boston Red Sox on Saturday night in the middle game of a three-game series.
Baltimore could not accomplish much on offense in the first five games after the All-Star break, scoring just 12 runs, a big reason the Orioles won just once in that span.
The bats were revived late against the visiting Washington Nationals en route to a 9-2 victory on Wednesday, and Baltimore finished with 14 hits in an 11-2 win over the Red Sox in the series opener on Friday night.
Anthony Santander and Keon Broxton homered for the Orioles in the latest win. Santander, who has pushed Dwight Smith Jr. to the bench with his hot hitting, blasted a three-run homer in the first inning off David Price. He now has a .280 average after going 2-for-4 with three runs.
Broxton often has been used for defense in center and is hitting only .185, but he hit a two-run homer off Price and finished the night 2-for-3 with two runs.
Manager Brandon Hyde liked how the Orioles got help from offense, defense and pitching, something he wants to see more of in the second half.
"For me, that was one of our better games of the year," Hyde said. "Everyone contributed ... it was just a fantastic game for us."
For Boston, the offense just could not come through at the right times Friday. The Red Sox went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base as Oriole pitchers worked their way out of trouble a few times.
Boston has the best team average in the major leagues after Friday's loss (.272) but could not do much while Baltimore scored the final eight runs.
Mookie Betts saw his streak of 13 straight games scoring a run end. He tied Ted Williams for the franchise record in that category.
The Red Sox had won three of four before Friday's game as they battle to stay in the playoff race. Manager Alex Cora said to MLB.com before the game that the team can take pressure off its struggling bullpen if the starters can go deeper. Price didn't do that in Friday's loss, lasting just four innings and giving up six runs on eight hits.
"What's made it more complicated is that we haven't pitched up to our potential the first six innings of the game," Cora said.
The bullpen could get some help Saturday as Nathan Eovaldi is expected to be activated. He's been a starter much of his career but often battled arm issues and has pitched in just four major league games in 2019. He has been sidelined since mid-April.
Eovaldi eventually could become the team's closer in the second half, but Cora has to see how the right-hander holds up.
Baltimore's Tom Eshelman (0-1, 5.76 ERA) will make his third major league start in Saturday's game, going up against veteran Rick Porcello (7-7, 5.37).
Eshelman will be making his first career appearance versus the Red Sox. He has pitched five and 5 2/3 innings in his first two outings, both this month against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Porcello has won each of his past two starts, though he hasn't been sharp in either outing. He has struggled against the Orioles throughout his career, going 6-12 with a 4.69 ERA in 21 games, all starts. In his lone appearance vs. Baltimore this year, he gave up three runs in four-plus innings in a loss on April 13.
--Field Level Media