|RHP Pivetta makes Red Sox debut against Orioles|
The Boston Red Sox get set to wrap up the home slate of a disappointing 2020 campaign as they welcome the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game series beginning Tuesday.
In recent years, a series against Baltimore in the last week of the season has represented a chance for an American League East top dog like Boston to pad its place in the standings. But for this year's Red Sox (20-34), the series' significance is solely in helping to determine which of the two teams will finish last in the division.
The Orioles (23-31) enter Monday still mathematically alive in the race for a wild-card spot in the expanded playoffs, but they are 4 1/2 games back with six games remaining.
Boston will see right-hander Nick Pivetta (0-0, 15.88 ERA) make his team debut in the opener Tuesday. Pivetta was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in a trade last month. Baltimore will counter with rookie left-hander Keegan Akin (1-1, 3.38).
The Red Sox enter the series in high spirits after a 10-2 rout of the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon. The victory ended a 12-game losing streak for Boston against its most bitter rival, as rookie starter Tanner Houck stole the show by allowing just one unearned run on one hit over six innings.
"As far as beating the Yankees, we know what kind of team they have. We know we have to play a really good game," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We did a great job pitching today against them, and some guys busted out today offensively."
Michael Chavis went deep twice in the win, and J.D. Martinez hit just his sixth blast of the season. Rookie Bobby Dalbec added his seventh homer in 17 games.
Pivetta represents an interesting project for the Red Sox as a former prospect who never really found his footing with the Phillies. The 27-year-old went 7-14 with a 4.77 ERA in 33 games (32 starts) with Philadelphia in 2018 before being moved to the bullpen a year later. He'll make his first start in well over a year and face the Orioles for the third time in his career (2-0, 2.63 ERA in two previous outings).
Baltimore enters the series having snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday in its last game at home. Left-hander John Means dazzled in the outing, striking out 12 in 5 2/3 innings.
"That was one of the better performances I've seen from him here in a year-plus," manager Brandon Hyde said.
Akin will look to pick up where Means left off as he makes his fifth career start Tuesday. Since moving to the rotation last month, the 25-year-old has a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, striking out 24.
"He attacks hitters, trusts his fastball and I think the secondary stuff is improving," said Hyde after Akin's last outing, in which he whiffed nine Atlanta Braves.
Akin will face the Red Sox for the first time.
Boston has gone 3-4 against Baltimore this season. After this series, the Red Sox will conclude their season in Atlanta against the Braves, while the Orioles will face the Toronto Blue Jays at Buffalo, N.Y.
--Field Level Media