The last two series between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles have been loud, with a questionable slide, a few dangerous pitches and some pointed verbal exchanges creating a bunch of tension between the American League East contenders that even captured the attention of Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred.
But while the on-field competition should remain fierce, especially with Boston and Baltimore trying to knock the New York Yankees out of the division’s top spot, don’t expect too many extracurricular activities this week at Camden Yards when the Orioles host the Red Sox for a four-game series that begins Thursday night.
Simply put, these teams have more important matters to worry about.
“I think both sides were over with whatever is going on. On both sides,” Jones told WEEI.com on Wednesday. “It could have been handled quicker, faster, better. It wasn’t. But the good thing is we got some time away from each other and hopefully it just went away. They say time heals all wounds. Hopefully we’ve gotten away from each other.”
A lot has happened since the Sox and O’s last squared off May 4 at Fenway Park. Most notably, the Orioles — whose 8-3 win in the teams’ last meeting sparked a six-game winning streak — have dropped 14 of their last 19 games and enter this week’s series sitting 3 1/2 games back of the Yankees (a game and a half behind Boston). The Red Sox, meanwhile, have gone 14-10.
Admittedly, it’s hard to completely block out the image of Manny Machado sliding high into Dustin Pedroia, injuring the Red Sox second baseman … or Pedroia and Machado having an interesting conversation after Matt Barnes fired a pitch near the Orioles third baseman’s head … or Machado ripping the Red Sox in an expletive-laden rant … or Dylan Bundy and Chris Sale each firing a pitch in the next head-to-head series that appeared to have a purpose … or Kevin Gausman getting ejected for plunking Xander Bogaerts with a harmless curveball.
… BUT, that’s what the Orioles must do this week to build off taking two of three from the Yankees and get back on track, especially with Machado and Chris Davis struggling.
And that’s what the Red Sox must do to keep playing well, especially with Pedroia sidelined with a wrist injury he sustained against the Chicago White Sox, Pablo Sandoval trying to find his stride upon returning from the disabled list and David Price set to make his second start of the season Saturday after a decent debut on Memorial Day.
“Everybody has paid attention to the Red Sox — how they’ve been playing lately. They’ve really been tearing the cover off the ball. We haven’t been playing so well over the past two weeks, three weeks,” Jones told WEEI.com. “At the end of the day, we’re not focusing on whatever bad blood we had. We’re focusing on right our ship and get ourselves back on a good steady streak to put ourselves back in the hunt for the East. We’ve got a strong month of June coming up. We’re worried about the wins and the losses, not worried about the commotion and the bad blood.”
A few misfired pitches or iffy comments could reignite the chaos. Stranger things have happened. But for now, expect a dull roar this week, as each team has too much to worry about from an execution standpoint to get caught up in any lingering animosity.
Plus, the commish likely will keep a watchful eye on this week’s series, ready to intervene and punish whoever steps out of line.
Thumbnail photo via Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports Images