The Boston Red Sox have experienced a highly disappointing season but are making a final-week push.
The Red Sox will go for their first four-game winning streak on Thursday when they close a three-game series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
A victory would also move Boston (22-34) outof sole possession of the American League East cellar and into a tie with the Orioles (23-33). The Red Sox have won the first two games by a cumulative 17-4 score.
Catcher Kevin Plawecki said it would have been easy for Boston to have mailed in the season after falling out of the playoff mix. He is impressed with the intensity the club is playing with in the final days of the campaign.
"We had a tough (nine)-game stretch early," Plawecki said of a dismal August losing streak that dropped the team's record to 6-18. "With the shortened season, I think we all kind of realized the magnitude of each and every game.
"We have a good team. We really do. We're going to keep fighting and try to win as many games as we can here. We have four left and we're going to keep fighting until the end."
Plawecki was one of the standouts of Wednesday's 9-1 trouncing of the Orioles.
He went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Rafael Devers smacked a three-run double raise his team-leading RBI count to 39.
But while Devers is potent with the bat, the 23-year-old has been a liability with the glove and leads all major league third basemen with 13 errors.
Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke says improvement is needed and feels there is a snowball effect once Devers makes one miscue.
"Raffy's got the toolset to be a good third baseman," Roenicke said. "If he can be even an average third baseman defensively, with the way he swings the bat it's a huge value for a team. But at times, there are some lapses. He knows it. He's really hard on himself when he makes an error. He doesn't like it. He works at it. And I think he'll just continue to get better and better."
The Orioles are sliding in the wrong direction with 12 losses in their past 15 games.
"It's always tough when the offense and pitching staff aren't lining up," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "Just wash it and move on to the next game and try to finish strong here these last few games and have fun playing baseball."
Baltimore avoided the shutout Wednesday when outfielder Austin Hays cleared the Green Monster in left-center field in the seventh inning.
Hays went 3-for-4 for his fifth multi-hit outing of the month. The 25-year-old is batting .371 (13-for-35) in September.
"Nice to see him get it going a little bit with three hits tonight," Hyde said. "Driving the ball out to left field, playing some exciting baseball right now. I think getting some at-bats under his belt, starting to feel a little bit more comfortable.
"It's nice to roll into the offseason swinging the bat well. Hopefully he can keep it going the next four days."
Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb (1-5, 4.76 ERA) is winless in eight starts since opening the season by beating the Red Sox. He allowed one run and four hits over 5 1/3 innings in that outing.
Cobb, 32, received a no-decision against Boston on Aug. 22 when he gave up two runs and six hits over five innings. He is 8-6 with a 3.73 ERA in 19 career starts against the Red Sox.
Christian Vazquez (11-for-16) and J.D. Martinez (11-for-22, one homer, five doubles) have regularly enjoyed success against Cobb.
In his last turn on Friday, Cobb gave up two runs and four hits over six innings while losing to the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.
Left-hander Martin Perez (3-4, 3.88) will look to help Boston complete the sweep.
Perez was solid in his last outing when he gave up three hits over six scoreless innings in a no-decision against the New York Yankees on Friday.
The 29-year-old Perez is 4-5 with a 4.77 ERA in 11 career starts against the Orioles.
--Field Level Media