After taking an interleague series from baseball's hottest team, the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox look like they could make a deep postseason run.
A playoff berth is less certain for the Baltimore Orioles, but the next week and a half could go a long way toward determining their postseason aspirations.The Orioles open a difficult nine-game road trip Tuesday night against a Red Sox team brimming with confidence.Boston (77-55) made a big statement over the weekend, taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. Jake Peavy pitched a three-hitter and Mike Napoli drove in three runs as the Red Sox won 8-1 on Sunday, handing the Dodgers their first series loss since June 14-16."This shows the caliber of ballclub that we are," Peavy said. "We're on the same level with those guys. I knew the day I walked into this clubhouse what we had here. And every guy, man for man, knows that we're capable of playing with anybody on a given day. It's just up to us to be prepared to do that."The Red Sox have a 5 1/2-game lead over third-place Baltimore in the East, and could put a dent in the Orioles' playoff chances. Boston, however, hasn't enjoyed much success against Baltimore, going 4-6 in the season series and losing 11 of the last 14 meetings at Fenway.Even if the Orioles (70-59) continue their success against the Red Sox, they'll still face critical matchups in their next two series. Baltimore, which pulled within two games of Oakland for the second wild-card spot with a 10-3 win over the Athletics on Sunday, meets the New York Yankees this weekend followed by a set against Cleveland."We've just got to carry this momentum on this next road trip," said right fielder Nick Markakis, who doubled and homered Sunday for his first extra-base hits in 32 games. "We've got a tough road trip, every team we're playing is in it. We've got a pretty hectic little schedule at the end of the year, and we all realize that."The Orioles had lost six of nine before taking two of three from the A's, scoring 19 runs and hitting five homers in the wins."It's huge for us," said third baseman Manny Machado, batting .341 in his last 10 games. "Any win from now on is going to count for us at the end of the road."Machado is hitting .364 with eight RBIs against the Red Sox this year, and Chris Davis has four homers and eight RBIs in the season series. Machado is 4 for 8 with a home run off Felix Doubront (9-6, 3.79 ERA), while Davis is 6 for 12 with a homer and double off of him.Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are a combined 3 for 27 with 14 strikeouts against Doubront.The left-hander allowed a run in eight innings of Wednesday's 12-1 win over San Francisco after giving up 10 runs over eight innings in his previous two starts. In his lone outing against the Orioles on June 13, he yielded four runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 5-4, 13-inning loss.Baltimore turns to Wei-Yin Chen (7-6, 3.19), who gave up two runs in seven innings of a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday. It was his ninth quality start in 10 outings.The left-hander made his only start of the season against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 8, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings of a 3-1 loss.Dustin Pedroia, batting .377 with eight runs in his last 12 games, is 4 for 10 lifetime against Chen, but David Ortiz is hitless in six career at-bats.
From Elias: ¿ FROM ELIAS: Dustin Pedroia's ninth-inning double off Brandon League on a 3-2 pitch on Sunday night against the Dodgers was the eighth consecutive at-bat with two strikes in the count in which Pedroia recorded a hit. That's the longest such streak in the major leagues this season (one more than Joe Mauer recorded back in April) and the longest such streak in more than 10 seasons. In 2003, Aramis Ramirez had a streak of 10 straight two-strike at-bats with hits.