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Series Preview: Orioles @ Red Sox

Baltimore Orioles (16-9, 2nd AL East) @ Boston Red Sox (11-13, 5th AL East)

Fresh off of a series win in New York against the Yankees, the Orioles travel up I-95 to Fenway for a three-game weekend set with the Boston Red Sox. This is the second series in a fairly brutal stretch of games including the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, and Rays. It also kicks off 15 straight days of baseball. That’s somewhat bad for the Orioles (hope the bullpen is rested!), but it means we can focus more on baseball than politics or bike lanes.

We’re into May now and the Orioles have gone 8-2 over their last ten and have won the past three series. They’ll try to keep that streak alive against a Red Sox team that currently finds itself in last place for the AL East (after a very sluggish start). They’ve begun to play some improved ball lately, but now find themselves without the services of 3B Kevin Youkilis who is out with a back injury. They continue to play without top OFs Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. Lucky for them, they’ll have the top of the rotation up to face the O’s.

Tonight’s game will be at 7:10pm, but Saturday and Sunday will both be afternoon games. The Orioles will pitch Chen, Hammel, and Hunter while the Red Sox counter with Lester, Cook, and Buchholz.

Game 1 (Friday @ 7:10pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Wei-Yin Chen (LHP, 2-0, 2.22 ERA)

BOS – Jon Lester (LHP, 1-2, 4.65 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Has struggled with command so far this season, walking 4 batters per nine innings. Hasn’t missed as many bats either. Throws a mid-90s fastball and compliments it with a cutter, sinker, curveball, and changeup. Sinker has been fairly effective as he’s generating ground balls about 48 percent of batters. Does not throw the changeup against lefties often.

Key Stats:

Lester has been rather effective against the Orioles top hitters, including Adam Jones (8-35) and Nick Markakis (11-52). Matt Wieters (8-25) has had a little bit more success. Overall, the Orioles hit just .240 against the Red Sox lefty. The Orioles, however, have hit .292 versus lefties so far this season. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have hit .262 against lefties, but post a solid OPS.

Game 2 (Saturday @ 1:10pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Jason Hammel (RHP, 3-1, 1.97 ERA)

BOS – Aaron Cook (RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Cook will make his first start of the season (and first with the Red Sox) against the Orioles on Saturday. He’s a former National Leaguer, logging ten seasons in the Colorado Rockies rotation (and pitching alongside Hammel). In the past, has thrown a fastball, sinker, slider, and curveball. Appears to have a changeup, but does not use it often. Velocity has been steadily decline and his fastball now sits around 88 MPH.

Key Stats:

The Red Sox have decent (although limited) numbers versus Hammel. They’ve amassed a 25 for 85 and have hit 3 homers. Hammel has held Adrian Gonzalez to a 4 for 23 and Cody Ross to a 1 for 10. David Ortiz, however, is 6 for 10 with a home run. Oddly enough, Kevin Gregg has found a bit of success versus Boston. Red Sox hitters are 12 for 60 lifetime. Cody Ross has that lone home run.

Game 3 (Sunday @ 1:35pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Tommy Hunter (RHP, 2-1, 4.26 ERA)

BOS – Clay Buchholz (RHP, 3-1, 8.69 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Buchholz sports a 3-1 record, but hasn’t been very effective (wins are overrated). He’s gotten some very solid run support from his lineup, however. Throws a fastball, changeup, curveball, cutter, and slider. Appears, however, to have dropped the slider from his repertoire this season and used the cutter more often. Velocity hangs in the lower-90s on the fastball.

Key Stats:

The Orioles are 21-93 off of Buchholz lifetime. Nick Markakis is just 3 for 24. Matt Wieters, on the other hand, is 6 for 14 with 2 doubles. Adams Jones is just 3-10, but has a home run, a double, and six (yep, six) RBI. The Red Sox have hit .311 against Hunter. He won’t have to face Carl Crawford, however. Crawford is 7 for 17 with a double and two triples. David Ortiz is 5 for 16 with two home runs and 5 RBI. If Hunter continues to live up in the strike zone, that number could rapidly increase.