The Red Sox are coming to town, the Bobby Valentine Deathwatch that's been off-and-on through the whole season is back on, and out of the two of these teams to play in this three-game series, it's the one with the payroll about $90 million below the other who is currently in one of the American League wild card spots. That would be the Orioles. This is Birdland.
However, all of that could change with just one series. If Boston suddenly reverts to their expected form and sweeps the O's, this would be what would launch a "they're back in it!" narrative while simultaneously the O's would be revealed to be what we thought all along. Or something like that. Either way, Boston needs a sweep to get above .500. My mind is still kind of blown by this. As Andrew and I discussed on the podcast last night, they have more to lose in this series than the O's have to gain - but it'd be nice if the O's gain anyway.
It'll be one-time ace Josh Beckett on the mound for Boston. He is not an ace this year, or anything close to it. Make all the fried chicken and beer jokes you want (and then make a few more for good measure), but there's something off there. His fastball velocity is down and his strikeout rate is way down. He is pushing a 5 ERA and it may be that he has ceased to give a f*** even though it is in fact his turn to do so. I really can't speculate as to the mental state of Beckett, actually - all I can do is drink down the delicious tears of Red Sox fans as their $16M pitcher (who's got two more guaranteed years after this) flames out spectacularly this year.
Speaking of spectacular flameouts, there's Wei-Yin Chen, who has mostly been good this year, except when he's bad, he's bad. Nearly one in five of his games have been O's blowout losses. He has given up 5+ ER in five out of 23 starts. He will be facing a Red Sox lineup that includes names like Danny Valencia and Pedro Ciriaco - what is a Pedro Ciriaco? He is the DH tonight. I expect in typical Orioles fashion, it will be the scrubs and the no-name losers who smack them around - although one should not forget the resurgent Adrian Gonzalez, who shared AL Player of the Week honors with Manny Machado last week - but of course Machado deserved them more because his week started on Thursday.
The Red Sox have kind of stunk so far this year. Have their fans jumped off the bandwagon? We will get a partial answer to that tonight, and no one should be particularly surprised if the pink hats have exchanged their Bs for curly Ws. Maybe the O's can chase away a few more of those fair weather fans tonight.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Jacoby Ellsbury - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Pedro Ciriaco - DH|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adrian Gonzalez - 1B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Cody Ross - RF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Ryan Lavarnway - C|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Carl Crawford - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Mike Aviles - SS|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Danny Valencia - 3B|