The Baltimore Orioles are going to need a lot of help to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years, especially if they keep failing to help themselves.
They'll try to avoid a three-game sweep against the Red Sox in the teams' final meeting of the season Sunday in Boston.
Saturday's hit to Baltimore's increasingly slim playoff chances was twofold. The Orioles (76-78) lost 8-0 to the Red Sox, while Houston won 9-7 against Texas, lowering Baltimore's elimination number to four. The Orioles have been held to seven hits in being shut out through the first two games of this set. They had been averaging 5.2 runs while winning 11 of the previous 15 meetings in the season series.
"We haven't scored in the last two days, so that kind of starts and ends there for me," manager Buck Showalter said. " ... I'll be the first to tip my hat to the other team, but we're capable of better."
Baltimore also matched a season high with three errors Saturday, including two by Manny Machado. Machado is not swinging the bat particularly well, either, hitting .207 in his last eight games.
The Orioles would love to get Adam Jones back after he missed a fifth straight game due to back spasms, though Showalter said he was available off the bench.
Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9, 4.16 ERA) has put the brakes on his post-All Star break slump for Baltimore, going 3-0 with a 3.04 ERA in his last four starts compared to 2-5 and 7.50 in his previous nine. He was excellent in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Washington, giving up one unearned run over six innings for his 100th career victory.
Jimenez walked five and has issued 14 free passes over 23 2-3 innings in his last four starts, though he's limited opponents to a .202 batting average in the same span.
"You're going to have to sometimes live with it," Showalter said of Jimenez's propensity for walks. "That's a little bit more than you want to."
Boston has had Jimenez's number historically. He's 2-3 with a 7.96 ERA in 10 career starts, allowing four runs over five innings before leaving without a decision in a 6-5 win Sept. 15. He's averaged an abysmal 7.2 walks per nine innings over the last five meetings, but managed to come away with a road victory June 23 after allowing three runs in five innings in a 6-4 win.
Pablo Sandoval missed a sixth straight game for Boston (74-80) due to pneumonia but manager Torey Lovullo said his condition was improving. He's batting .359 with five extra-base hits in 39 at-bats against Jimenez.
This has also been a good matchup for Dustin Pedroia (9 for 24) and Mookie Betts (4 for 9).
The Red Sox will start left-handed rookie Henry Owens (3-3, 4.41), who threw 7 2-3 shutout innings in a 10-1 victory at Baltimore on Sept. 16. He had a perfect game through four innings in his next start Tuesday against Tampa Bay, but he ended up yielding five runs and seven hits over 7 1-3 innings in a 5-2 defeat.
"The consistency was definitely there early," he told MLB's official website. " ... I think I just did a poor job those last few innings. There was definitely positives from the outing I will take."
Owens is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in five starts at Fenway Park, allowing seven homers in 28 1-3 innings.