The Boston Red Sox have a better batting average than the Baltimore Orioles. They get on base more, score more runs. Boston’s ERA is better, among both the starters and relievers.

So why can’t the Red Sox shake free of the Orioles and be the sole contender to the Yankees for the American League East title?

The simple answer is the Orioles are more efficient.

The Red Sox have a lineup full of hitters. Baltimore is more productive.

Heading into Saturday night’s game, Boston has scored 20 more runs (playing one more game) than Baltimore.

But the Red Sox should be scoring even more with a .267 batting average and .340 on-base percentage – among the league leaders – compared to Baltimore’s .255/.311 numbers.

Counting hits and walks, Boston has had 66 more baserunners than the Orioles.

Here are some glaring numbers.

Baltimore’s batting average is 12 points less than Boston but with runners in scoring position, Baltimore is 13 points better – .305 to .292.

Boston is not bad in the clutch but also squanders chances, grounding into a league-best 29 double plays. Baltimore ranks 14th with 34.

And the power numbers speak volumes. Boston is last in home runs (50), Baltimore sixth (75).

Getting on base is nice but homers make a difference – 49 percent of the Orioles’ run production comes from home runs, compared to 31 percent of Boston’s.

In Baltimore’s victories against Boston on Thursday and Friday, nine of the Orioles’ 10 runs came from homers.

With that said, here is the obligatory mention of David Ortiz – who not only provided Boston with 38 home runs in 2016, but hit .342 with runners in scoring position.

I also add the obligatory complaint of trading Travis Shaw, who has nine home runs with Milwaukee.

Boston’s pitching has been good for the most part, and usually better than the Orioles, in ERA (3.89 to 4.31), starters’ ERA (4.34 to 4.61) and relievers’ ERA (3.02 to 3.87).

But the Orioles play better defense behind their pitchers than Boston.

They turn more double plays (54 to 38) and commit fewer errors (31 to 40), which has resulted in fewer unearned runs (12 to 20).

If Boston is going to contend, it needs to do better.

Maybe the Red Sox can’t simply turn on the power. They still need better production.

The pitching is performing well – and yes, it can always do better.

The errors must be reduced.

Boston looked better in May, but still hasn’t broken out of the pack. Without improvement, the Red Sox will have a season full of excellent individual efforts but not a championship.

ONE OF THE individual performers to watch in Boston, Mookie Betts, is close to another milestone. Betts, 24, has 497 hits through Friday. Only six Red Sox in the last 100 years have reached 500 hits before they turned 25 – Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice and Xander Bogaerts.

Betts also is one of the two leading defensive players in the American League, according to Fangraphs. Under “defensive runs save,” Betts scored a 10, as did his teammate, Jackie Bradley Jr.

SAM TRAVIS is batting .500 (7 for 14), with two doubles, heading into Saturday night’s game. He’s not playing every day but if Travis keeps hitting, the Red Sox can’t simply send him down, can they?

SPEAKING OF Travis Shaw, he’s batting .287 with an .848 OPS (Boston’s third base production is .211/.610). Shaw has made four errors in 47 games at third base (Boston has 14 errors at third in 54 games). … Shaw was dealt in the trade for reliever Tyler Thornburg (on the disabled list indefinitely with a sore shoulder). Another player in that trade, former Portland Sea Dogs infielder Mauricio Dubon, is still in Double-A, batting .293/.722 for the Biloxi Shuckers.

THE SEA DOGS are back in town Tuesday against the Akron Rubber Ducks (still have a hard time typing that without a chuckle). Mookie Betts bobblehead dolls will be given out to the first 1,000 fans. The Sea Dogs are now in summer time, with weekday games usually starting at 7 p.m. (although this Thursday is at 11 a.m.), and Saturdays at 6 p.m.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @ClearTheBases