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First-place Red Sox face last-place Orioles

Sports Xchange - Friday 10th August, 2018

BALTIMORE -- The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles sit at opposite ends of the spectrum in the world of Major League Baseball. Boston might be the best team while the Orioles could be the worst.

But when the teams start a weekend series at Oriole Park on Friday night, they'll at least have one similarity -- each will be trying to rebound from a loss.

The Red Sox (81-35) will send recently acquired Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.38 ERA) to the mound versus Baltimore's Dylan Bundy (7-10, 4.38).

Boston dropped an 8-5 decision to Toronto on Thursday night while the Orioles (35-80) once again lost a late-inning lead and fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4.

However, typical of the Red Sox this season, they made something good out of something bad. Despite the loss, Mookie Betts hit for the cycle for the first time in his career. He went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI thanks to his 27th homer.

Betts did it with some drama, homering on his last at-bat of the night Thursday in Toronto, belting a shot off Ken Giles. The 4-for-4 performance raised the MVP candidate's batting average to .347 for the season.

Still, Betts told reporters after the game that he certainly enjoyed hitting for the cycle and finishing it off the way he did.

"I had plenty of guys letting me know what I needed," Betts said. "We were losing the game and I had to do what I could to try and win the game. I was just trying to win the game so I was just trying to get on base."

Betts has always hit well in Baltimore, better at Oriole Park than any other stadium except Fenway Park. The outfielder has 13 homers and 28 RBIs in 35 career games in Baltimore.

Home runs have been a problem for Bundy this season. He has pitched well several times but has allowed 27 homers in 121 1/3 innings this year. That's a career high and the most homers given up by an American League pitcher.

That doesn't count the three the Red Sox hit in two innings against him last month in a game that was eventually washed out.

Bundy has a 3-6 record with a 4.24 ERA in 15 career appearances (11 starts) against Boston. He is 0-2 despite a 2.29 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox this year.

The Baltimore starters have pitched much better lately but the team has blown several late leads, including Thursday.

However, manager Buck Showalter said after that game that this is just what happens sometimes when young players are trying to find their way.

"There will be some really good feelings about what could be and what's going to be, and there'll be some times where you know you have to go through some growing pains," Showalter told The Baltimore Sun on Thursday.

Eovaldi is 2-0 since coming to Boston and has yet to allow a run in 15 innings through two starts. He has a career record of 2-0 with a 4.33 ERA in five starts versus the Orioles. Eovaldi has not faced Baltimore this season.

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