5 rival players who can derail Red Sox’ Wild Card chase

Sep 23, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting his second solo home run of the game against the Cincinnati Reds during the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting his second solo home run of the game against the Cincinnati Reds during the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Boston Red Sox are supposed to have two of the easier final series of the season of any MLB team currently still in the playoff race.

They have two more games against the Baltimore Orioles before a final series against the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees have to contend with the Toronto Blue Jays and the already-division-champion Tampa Bay Rays.

Trey Mancini is a threat to the Red Sox’ Wild Card chase

The presumed American League Comeback Player of the Year has continued to be one of the only good parts of a terrible Orioles team.

Trey Mancini beat cancer last year and made a triumphant return to baseball in 2021. In 142 games, he’s hitting .255/.327/.436 with a .763 OPS, 21 home runs, 32 doubles, 70 RBI, and 75 runs scored. He’s one of four Orioles with more than 20 home runs, one of three with 70+ RBI, and one of two with 30+ doubles. Only Cedric Mullins has played in more games for the team this year.

The homegrown Mancini has been with the Orioles since the 2013 draft, and is in his fifth big-league season. He’s always hit the Red Sox well, a lifetime .302 average and 16 home runs against them in 73 career games. His batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS against the Sox are better than his numbers against any other team he’s faced more than 25 times.

This season, Mancini has three doubles, four home runs, 11 runs scored, and 16 RBI in 16 games against Boston. His first hit of the season even came on Opening Day at Fenway.

In Tuesday night’s series opener, Mancini went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He’ll be the designated hitter on Wednesday, and likely do more damage against the Sox arms.