Orioles @ Red Sox Series Preview - July 5-6, 2014

Darren McCollester

The Orioles arrive in Boston a first-place team. But will it last through the weekend?

Earlier today, game one of this series was postponed due to inclement weather. So if you were hoping to spend your Independence Day watching the American past time, you'll have to find another game to watch. This preview is written assuming today's pitching match ups will be moved up to game one of tomorrow's doubleheader, but we all know that's not always the case. I'll try to update if any different news is announced.

July 5th, Game 1- Miguel Gonzalez (RHP) vs Jon Lester (LHP), 1:35

When this game was originally scheduled, it looked like the Orioles really had the cards stacked against them. A very late arrival into Boston, a day game following a night game, and an opponent that had not only not traveled the day before, but also had the day off. But that all got washed out with the weather, so now they'll just have to contend with Jon Lester. In addition to being the Orioles longtime nemesis, Lester is having a fantastic year. He has given up three runs or less in 14 of his 17 starts and has an ERA of just 2.92. His FIP is even better at 2.84. Lester has already faced the Orioles once this season on Opening Day. The O's won that game, but Lester was very good. He gave up just two runs in seven innings with eight strikeouts.

If you've been paying attention to the Orioles lately, you probably know that Miguel Gonzalez has had his troubles. He hasn't actually given up a large number of runs, but he can't pitch deeply into the game, he's giving up walks, and he just looks over matched.  I hope he can get it together because I'm a fan of his, but as things go right now it seems the bullpen is his destiny. Gonzalez has actually had success against the Red Sox in his short career, pitching to a 3.13 ERA over five games (three starts). He hasn't faced the Red Sox yet this season.

As you might expect, not many Orioles have had individual success against Lester. Although it's impressive to me that Adam Jones has drawn eight walks! That's a 12.5% walk rate, which for Adam is unheard of. Also, it might be a good time to give Chris Davis the day off.

Nick Markakis 73 69 16 6 0 1 4 16 .232 .274 .319 .593
Adam Jones 64 56 18 3 0 5 8 21 .321 .406 .375 .781
Delmon Young 42 37 7 0 0 3 3 8 .189 .238 .189 .427
J.J. Hardy 31 30 9 1 1 2 1 6 .300 .323 .500 .823
Chris Davis 29 27 3 2 1 4 2 9 .111 .172 .296 .469
Nelson Cruz 27 24 11 2 3 5 3 3 .458 .519 1.000 1.519
Steve Pearce 10 8 1 1 0 2 1 5 .125 .200 .250 .450

The Red Sox don't have nearly the numbers against Gonzalez, being that it's only his third year in the league. No Red Sock has more than eight plate appearances. He's never given up a home run to any current Red Sock, and David Ortiz is hitless in his career against him! (ok, it's only 5 PAs)

July 5th, Game 2 - Ubaldo Jimenez (RHP) vs John Lackey (RHP), 7:15

The disappointing Ubaldo Jimenez is coming off of a very good start against the Texas Rangers, but can he sustain it? It's tough to have faith that he will, certainly. Jimenez vs the Red Sox seems like a terrible match up. Jimenez has walked 54 in just 96 innings pitched, and the Red Sox are third in walks in the American League (first in the A.L. East). He has already faced them twice this season and the Orioles have two losses to show for it. Jimenez "only" walked three in each game (for a guy who sometimes walks five or six, three doesn't seem so bad). Jimenez has made six career starts against the Red Sox with a 9.31 ERA and a .403 OBP against. Ouch.

And how about John Lackey? He's pitching well this season, but his last two starts were disasters. Against the Mariners and Yankees, Lackey went a combined 8 2/3 innings with 12 runs allowed. More of that, please! One of his worst starts this season did come against the Orioles, when he gave up six runs in 5 1/3 inning on April 18th. But he also shut them down in the first series of the season.

Since this is Lackey's 12th year in the majors, some Orioles have racked up a decent number of plate appearances against him. Nick Markakis and Chris Davis have had success against him. J.J. Hardy...not so much.

Nick Markakis 67 61 21 6 0 5 5 12 .344 .403 .475 .878
Adam Jones 50 48 12 0 3 7 1 14 .250 .260 .479 .739
Chris Davis 38 34 11 3 2 6 4 9 .324 .395 .588 .983
Nelson Cruz 36 33 9 1 1 7 2 12 .273 .333 .394 .727
J.J. Hardy 26 23 4 0 0 1 3 5 .174 .269 .174 .443
Delmon Young 25 22 7 1 0 2 2 6 .318 .360 .364 .724

Meanwhile, these numbers make me sad.

Stephen Drew 44 36 9 4 1 2 7 5 .250 .372 .444 .817
A.J. Pierzynski 22 22 4 2 1 2 0 3 .182 .182 .409 .591
Jonny Gomes 20 18 7 1 3 8 2 5 .389 .450 .944 1.394
Dustin Pedroia 20 18 7 1 0 4 2 3 .389 .450 .444 .894
David Ortiz 15 12 2 0 1 2 3 2 .167 .333 .417 .750
Daniel Nava 12 10 3 3 0 3 1 4 .300 .417 .600 1.017
Mike Napoli 10 9 4 1 2 3 1 1 .444 .500 1.222 1.722
July 6th - Kevin Gausman (RHP) vs Jake Peavy (RHP), 1:35

Technically the Orioles haven't announced who will make this start, but the rumor mill says Kevin Gausman. They won't have any starters on regular rest, as the last time this place in the rotation came up it was taken by T.J. McFarland. The Orioles put Gausman through another one of those ridiculous one-inning outings in the minors on Wedensday, which means he should be well rested enough to make this start. McFarland was good enough in his start against the Rangers, and as of now he hasn't pitched again, but I can't imagine they'll give him another start. I say this mostly because it's high time the Orioles just stuck Gausman in the rotation and let him be. That and they'll probably need their bullpen to be full strength with the doubleheader.

Gausman has made five starts for the Orioles this year, three of which were outstanding. Those, of course, came when he was pitching regularly and on four days rest. If he starts on Sunday, he'll be on another screwy schedule. I still want to see him.

Jake Peavy has been up and down for the Red Sox this season. He's been up more than down overall, pitching at least six innings in 14 of his 17 starts, and giving up three runs or less in 10. But he has more than his share of clunkers, two of which came against the Orioles earlier this year. He gave up five runs with five walks in 4 2/3 innings in April, then just about a month ago he lasted seven innings against the O's but gave up four runs, all of which were on home runs. And two of those homers were to Nick Markakis and Ryan Flaherty, so you know Peavy felt a little stupid. Peavy has given up a lot of homers this year, 1.5 per nine innings, and only three of his starts didn't feature a home run allowed.

Peavy has been pitching since 2002, but with most of those years in the N.L. West, not many Orioles have seen him many times.

J.J. Hardy 26 22 2 1 0 1 3 6 .091 .192 .136 .329
Nick Markakis 17 14 5 0 1 2 3 2 .357 .471 .571 1.042
Nelson Cruz 15 13 4 2 1 2 2 3 .308 .400 .692 1.092
Delmon Young 15 13 3 1 1 3 1 5 .231 .333 .538 .872
Adam Jones 13 12 7 1 1 2 0 1 .583 .615 .917 1.532
Chris Davis 12 10 1 0 0 0 2 2 .100 .250 .100 .350

No current Red Sock has more than five career plate appearances against Gausman. Gausman has faced seven Red Sox a total of 17 times, holding them to a .176/.176/.412 hitting line (3-for-17, 2B, HR).

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