Red Sox rout Orioles in second game of doubleheader, wild card lead back at two games

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After all that, we’re right back where we were when we began the day.

The Red Sox dropped the first game of today’s doubleheader against the last-place Orioles, but they brought their bats for the nightcap. On the strength of 20 hits, they pushed their Wild Card lead back to two games with an 18-9 victory.

This was a brutal game to watch for many reasons. Brian Matusz, who was making his first start since September 5, gave up six runs over 1 2/3 innings to fall to 1-8 on the season. The young left-hander now has a 10.68 ERA this season, which is the worst ever for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 starts in a season. The previous record holder? Roy Halladay in 2000.

Things weren’t much better with John Lackey. Despite getting 11 runs of support, he couldn’t even qualify for the win. Lackey was pulled in the fifth inning after allowing eight runs on 11 hits and two walks. And had a pretty nasty stare for Terry Francona on the way out. His ERA jumped from 6.19 to 6.49 in the no-decision. If Erik Bedard can’t make it back, it really looks like Alfredo Aceves would be Boston’s third starter in a potential playoff series.

Anyway, this night was about the bats for Boston. Of note, Conor Jackson hit a grand slam and Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-6 with an inside-the-park home run. Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with four RBI while Adrian Gonzalez and Marco Scutaro also had three hits.

The Red Sox will play five of their final eight games against the Orioles. And after watching tonight’s pathetic performance, Red Sox fans should feel pretty good about that. The Rays will open a four-game series against the Yankees tomorrow night. They play seven of their final 10 games against the Bombers.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.