While the Baltimore Orioles had a much-needed chance to rest up, the Boston Red Sox did more to suggest they have heated up.
Those developments came on the eve of the teams' series opener in Boston on Friday night.
The Red Sox have won seven of their past eight games. Among the highlights of that stretch was a huge offensive outburst on Thursday in a 16-7 road win against the Chicago White Sox. That result came two nights after Boston posted a season-high 16 runs against Chicago and was an ideal response to a loss between those high-scoring outings.
Boston second baseman Trevor Story has homered seven times in the past seven games, including a three-run shot on Thursday as part of a four-RBI night.
"Now, this is the player that we envisioned," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "Last year wasn't a great year for him offensively, but he found himself. He's working so hard. It's fun to watch."
Even so, Story might not be on the team's most impressive stretch considering J.D. Martinez leads the majors with a .380 average and is hitting at a .538 clip (28-for-52) over the past 13 games.
"This is the best I've seen him in four years," Cora said of Martinez. "The quality of the at-bats, the two-strike hits, going the other way. It has been impressive."
While Boston was piling up a season-high-tying 24 hits on Thursday, Baltimore had the day off.
The Orioles just completed a stretch of 19 games across 18 days, in part because a scheduled off day was used for a makeup game. In the past week, Baltimore has played three games that lasted 11 or more innings, beating the Tampa Bay Rays twice and falling to the New York Yankees once in those contests.
The five-game series in Boston includes a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
For the Orioles, who have won just four of their past 13 games, this marks the third consecutive series against an American League East rival -- after the matchups with Tampa Bay and New York. The Red Sox and Orioles occupy the bottom two positions in the division standings.
Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 draft who was called up for his big-league debut last weekend, notched his first multi-hit game with a pair of singles Wednesday night.
"Just trying to get more comfortable, and I feel like I've been able to do that," Rutschman said. "Just looking forward to mostly just settling in, helping the team win and looking forward to the next road series."
Second baseman Rougned Odor, who had a pair of game-winning RBIs in the Tampa Bay series, might be heating up. He has a 10-game hitting streak, matching his career long.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said some crucial pitching decisions are needed for the upcoming series. The ideal starting point would be a strong outing from rookie right-hander Kyle Bradish in the series opener.
Bradish (1-3, 5.74 ERA) is set for his sixth appearance, just his second on the road. His debut came against the Red Sox on April 29, when he gave up three runs, two earned, in six innings while absorbing a 3-1 loss.
Boston will go with right-hander Garrett Whitlock (1-1, 3.58), though he's normally used for short durations. He hasn't lasted more than five innings in his six starts and four relief outings this year.
His six previous appearances against Baltimore all came as a reliever last year, and he allowed one run across 11 innings, with 12 strikeouts and one walk. His first game in the majors came on April 4, 2021, vs. Baltimore, and he threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Orioles hold just a 6-16 road record. The Red Sox are 10-10 at home.
--Field Level Media