Game 69: Red Sox (41-28) @ Orioles (39-29), 4:05

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Orioles were the better baseball team. With Freddy Garcia pitching today, here's hoping they're the luckier one in this game.

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Are you ready for Sweaty Freddy? Me either. But that's what we are going to have to contend with today all the same. The Orioles have won the first two games of the series and are going for a third straight win today, which would give them the series win and a chance to sweep tomorrow (which we all know they would blow if it manages to get to that point).

There is no sure thing that they will be in that position. Garcia gives up home runs at a Matusz-as-starter-like pace, the Red Sox have guys who hit a lot of home runs. It's a bad combination. Then again, Chris Tillman, also a homer-prone pitcher, managed to give up no home runs last night, so maybe Garcia can work some of that same magic in this afternoon contest.

Garcia is not the only reason why it could be a tough game for the Orioles. They'll also be facing John Lackey. I've gotten used to Lackey sucking, but being good against the Orioles. This year he's pitching well: a 3.14 ERA. Getting over 50% ground balls is always helpful for that. Even with that being the case, he's given up nine home runs in 57.1 IP. That's over ten starts. How much does that ERA help the team if he's not even averaging six innings? Boston's bullpen is good, so perhaps it doesn't hurt so much.

Here's some good news. Lackey's numbers this year are fueled by a 1.04 ERA at home, but he has a 4.88 ERA on the road. He's given up seven of his nine home runs on the road. Lackey's one of those pitchers whose splits are the reverse of what you would expect, in that right-handed hitters are hitting much better off of him even though he is a right-handed pitcher. That could line up well for Orioles like Adam Jones and Manny Machado, who are themselves right-handed hitters with good numbers against right-handed pitching.

That is just for this year. The Orioles with the best numbers off Lackey are Nick Markakis (.914 OPS in 48 PA) and Chris Davis (1.291 OPS in 19 PA). Jones has actually kind of sucked against Lackey in his career. Whoops.

As you might expect, David Ortiz has good numbers off Garcia: 1.011 OPS in 48 PA, the most any Red Sox hitter has faced Garcia. That includes three home runs. Jacoby Ellsbury has also hit Garcia well, so those are the guys to watch for today. But with Garcia, anyone could strike at any time, and probably will.

If I might quote the wise words of Jim Palmer: "It's a day game. Play deeper!"


BALTIMORE ORIOLES BOSTON RED SOX
Nate McLouth - LF Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Shane Victorino - RF
Nick Markakis - RF Dustin Pedroia - 2B
Adam Jones - CF David Ortiz - DH
Chris Davis - 1B Mike Carp - 1B
Matt Wieters - DH Jonny Gomes - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Stephen Drew - SS
Taylor Teagarden - C Jose Iglesias - 3B

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