Orioles @ Red Sox lineups and game notes - April 18

Leon Halip

Chris Tillman takes the hill against John Lackey in the first game of a series in Boston where the O's will look to get over .500 for the first time in 2014.

Tillman is pitching! I don't know bout everyone else, but these days, I always feel like the Orioles are going to win when number 30 is on the mound.

Game time: 7:05 Fenway Park, Boston 
TV: MASN (BAL), NESN+ (BOS), MLB Network  
Radio: 1090 AM WBAL (BAL), WEEI 93.7 FM, WCEC 1490 AM (BOS)

Pitchers

RHP John Lackey, Boston

2014 stats: 3 GS, 2-1, 3.86 ERA, 18.2 IP, 17 SO, .254 BAA, 1.13 WHIP
Last start vs. Baltimore: (4/2/14 Red Sox 6, Orioles: 2) 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, W

Lackey has been solid this year. His stats ballooned up after his last start where he gave up four home runs to the Yankees in New York. Prior to that he stifled the Rangers and put in a quality start against the Birds in the Opening Series.

So far, his approach seems to be that of a two pitch pitcher. According to Brooks Baseball, his percentage of four-seam fastballs being thrown is a whopping 64 percent. Way up when compared to 50 percent just last year. The four-seamer does look to be a tick faster this year, up to 93-94 miles per hour. Lackey is coupling that with his slider which is being thrown at a similar rate as last year, around 29 percent. Then he does mix in a sinker, change-up, and a curve but all together they make up less than nine percent of his pitches.

If Lackey continues to be fastball-heavy look for the Orioles to swing early in the count to avoid the slider, especially Adam Jones who has scuffled a bit lately with the K's and has a poor history against Lackey, striking out 13 times.

RHP Chris Tillman, Baltimore

2014 stats: 3 GS, 1-1 , 0.84 ERA, 21.1 IP, 15 SO, .188 BAA, 0.84 WHIP
Last start vs. Boston: (3/31/14 Orioles 2, Red Sox 1) 5 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, ND

Tillman's Opening Day start against the Red Sox has, by far, been his worst outing of the young 2014 season. That said, it was not all that bad. He only gave up the one run from a Grady Sizemore home run. The problem was he only managed to go five innings that day and the O's bats were quiet. He will surely look to go deeper tonight.

Thus far, Tilly has been a tad lucky. Opponents batting average on balls in play is a measly .206, and he is leaving 92.1% of runners on base. But I can't attribute all of that to fortune. He is only walking a bit more than one batter per nine innings pitched. One would assume that means he is hitting his spots. His velocity and pitch selection seem to be right on par with his career numbers but, as I cover at the bottom of this page, it will be chilly tonight in Boston. It may take an inning or two for both pitchers to truly "warm-up".

Lineups

Orioles (w/ career statistics vs. Lackey)

RF Nick Markakis (L) 19-for-57, .333 BA, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 BB, 12 SO
LF Delmon Young (R) 6-for-17, .353 BA, 1 2B, 1 BB, 5 SO
1B Chris Davis (L) 11-for-32, .344 BA, 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 8 SO
CF Adam Jones (R) 10-for-45, .222 BA, 1 3B, 3 HR, 1 BB, 13 SO
DH Nelson Cruz (R) 8-for-31, .258 BA, 1 BB, 11 SO
C Matt Wieters (S) 6-for-32, 6 SO
SS J.J. Hardy (R) 3-for-20, .150 BA, 3 BB, 5 SO
2B Steve Lombardozzi (L) 0-for-2, .000 BA, 1 SO
3B Jonathan Schoop (R) none

Two new players are inserted into the lineup today; Young and Schoop. Young has raked against Lackey in the past. Schoop replaces Ryan Flaherty who has struggled in his time against Lackey (0-for-5). As I mentioned above, Jones has had a rough go in his history with Boston's righty, but he does have three bombs. The top of the lineup looks to have a big night; good averages and a fastball pitcher could be a good combination for the O's

Red Sox (w/ career statistics against Tillman)

LF Grady Sizemore (L) 2-for-5, ,400 BA, 1 HR
RF Daniel Nava (S) 4-for-20, .200 BA, 2 2B, 4 BB, 7 SO
2B Dustin Pedroia (R) 9-for-30, .300 BA, 2 2B, 2 BB, 2 SO
DH Mike Napoli (R) 5-for-15, .333 BA, 2 2B, 3 BB, 7 SO
1B Mike Carp (L) 2-for-14,  .143 BA, 1 BB, 2 SO
SS Xander Bogaerts (R) 0-for-5, .000 BA, 2 SO
C A.J. Pierzynski (L) 2-for-12, .167 BA
CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) 2-for-5, .400 BA, 2 SO
3B Brock Holt (L) none

Napoli is in the lineup again today. His injury sliding into second base the other day apparently looked more serious than it actually is. The surprise sit today is Big Papi. He has had issues with Tillman in the past and I'm not hearing any injury news. Must just be a day off where he may be used to pinch hit late in a close game. Holt gets the nod at third after being called up. He was tearing up minor league pitching at Triple A (.380/.446/.600). The 25 year old made his debut with Pittsburgh back in 2012 and had a brief stint with Boston last year. He is the latest in line for the hot corner has the BoSox try to find a solution there. Ryan Roberts was designated for assignment to make room for Holt.

Weather

According to the Weather Channel, It is expected to be a nippy one up in Boston. Temperature of 42 degrees around game time. Expect winds around seven miles per hour going east. They may make it feel a touch colder with a low of 39 degrees. There is a 10 percent chance of precipitation throughout the game.

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