A few days ago I wrote the series preview for the just completed series between the Tigers and Orioles, and in it I declared the biggest series they had played so far in the season. I stand by that, but also this series against the Red Sox is even bigger.
The Orioles did what they needed to do in Detroit and got a bit of breathing room between themselves and both Detroit and New York, who are now two games back in the wild card race. They also kept pace with the Red Sox, who took two out of three from the Blue Jays over the weekend and who hold a two-game lead in the A.L. East.
If the Orioles sweep this series in Boston they will find themselves at worst in a tie for first place in the division with the Blue Jays, one game ahead of the Red Sox. If they are swept in the series they will fall to five games back in the division, a position from which they would be extraordinarily unlikely to recover.
There is probably not going to be a sweep in either direction, so what the Orioles need to do just win the series. That’ll put them at one game back of the Red Sox in the division. That isn’t ideal, but the Orioles still play them for four more games at Camden Yards.
In 12 games so far this season the Orioles and Red Sox have played to a 6-6 record. Of course, in recent history the Orioles have owned the Red Sox, going 52-35 against them since the start of the 2012 season. But those past seasons mean nothing, it’s all about what the Orioles can do now.
Game 1: Monday, 7:10 ET
Wade Miley (8-12, 5.49 ERA) vs. David Price (15-8, 3.87 ERA)
Okay then. This is not really the pitching match up you want to see, is it? But the Orioles could have skipped either Miley or Yovani Gallardo in this series and they went with Gallardo. It’s hard to argue with that.
Miley’s last start came in the only loss the Orioles took against the Yankees last weekend, and he was not good. That’s not really surprising given that his ERA is 5.49. But he is capable of putting together a decent start from time to time, and maybe this will be one of those times.
If you want to look for silver linings, the Red Sox don’t hit lefties as well as they hit righties this season. Of course, they still hit lefties to a line of .280/.353/.451. That’s pretty good. Miley was a member of the Red Sox in 2015, so maybe he’ll dial it up against his old club? I guess we’ll see.
As for David Price, we all know what we’re getting with him. A high strikeout lefty who is having yet another good season. He started off poorly but by since the beginning of July he has pitched a 2.82 ERA. The Red Sox have won each of the last six games he has started, including their rain-shortened win against the Orioles back on August 17th.
Game 2: Tuesday, 7:10 ET
Dylan Bundy (8-5, 3.82 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (10-11, 3.01 ERA)
That’s right, the Orioles are facing back-to-back lefties in this series. What fun! Pomeranz has made 10 starts as a member of the Red Sox, and after a few rocky ones he has settled in. In seven starts since the start of August, Pomeranz has pitched to a 2.76 ERA. The Red Sox don’t love scoring runs for him though, as in that stretch the team has gotten more than three runs just once.
Dylan Bundy continues to worry me. In his last start he didn’t make it through four innings. He seems to be on an every other start kind of pattern of late, though, so maybe this will be his good game.
Game 3: Wednesday, 7:10 ET
Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.61 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (20-3, 3.21 ERA)
Now this is a pitching matchup! Gausman is on a roll. Since his ERA hit a season-high 4.37 back on June 20th, he has pitched to a 3.00 ERA in 14 starts since. In eight starts between August and September he has given up more than two runs just twice. The second was in his last start against the Tigers in which he gave up three runs, his first runs allowed in 20 straight innings.
As for Porcello, he is having a career season after being relatively mediocre since coming into the league in 2009 with Detroit. Porcello has not pitched fewer than seven innings since July 24th, and on that day he pitched 6 2⁄3 innings. In that same stretch he has not given up more than three runs in any one game.
This is going to be tough series, but that isn’t news to anyone. Games down the stretch in September are supposed to be hard. If they weren’t hard, everyone would contend.