After the first two games of the Red Sox 4-game set with the Orioles, it looked as if the two teams were going in opposite directions. The Baltimore Orioles had lost 7 of their last 10 games and had fallen to 3 games back of the 1st place Red Sox, who had won 7 of their last 10. They had mustered all of 5 extra base hits in the first 2 games of the series while their pitching staff had allowed 5 HRs to Mookie Betts alone. Then the tides turned dramatically.

In games 3 and 4 the Red Sox pitching staff allowed 25 runs on 25 hits including 7 HRs (all in game 4). Despite scoring 16 runs of their own, which should be enough to win even most nights even with a mediocre pitching staff, the Red Sox dropped the last 2 of the series and now find themselves just 1 game up in the AL East. The Red Sox are 5-5 in their last 10 games, 7 of the 10 coming against divisional foes. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier as they have another 3-game set against the Blue Jays, followed by a quick west coast swing to play the NL West leading San Francisco Giants for two games.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the 8 pitchers used by John Farrell all allowed at least 1 earned run, 6 of the 8 allowing at least 2 earned runs. The once surprisingly strong bullpen is coming back down to earth and the holes in the starting rotation are being exploited, especially against a good lineup like the Orioles. The common refrain that we all heard in Spring Training is getting louder: their pitching staff isn’t good enough to contend.

Although the final two games of the series were tough to watch at times (unless you love offense and don’t care about result), the Red Sox end the series with their division rivals exactly where they began: 1 game up in 1st place in the AL East. It could be worse.