After a solid road trip last week and a series split with the Rays over the weekend, the Orioles are in good position to make the playoffs in some capacity. But in order to solidify those chances and maintain a shot at the division crown, they need a strong showing as they host the Red Sox at Camden Yards for a huge four-game set starting on Monday.
Since these two teams met in Boston a week ago, the Red Sox went on a bit of a run against the Yankees, sweeping them in a four-game series that all but knocked the Yankees out of the playoff race.
This will be a showdown decided by the offenses. The Orioles lead the world in home runs. The Red Sox lead the world in batting average and runs scored (among other things). Neither starting pitching staff is all that great, but it would seem fair to say the O’s are the “in form” team when it comes to their hurlers.
I’m equal parts excited and anxious for this series to get underway. Luckily for the Birds, they are in the friendly confines of Oriole Park. They also own a slight advantage in the season series (8-7) over Boston. But they have been outscored (82-74) and the Red Sox have a propensity for being annoying and good. Ugh. Just knock me out and wake me when it’s over.
Game one: Monday, September 19, 7:05 p.m on MASN
RHP Rick Porcello (20-4, 3.12 ERA) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (9-5, 3.88 ERA)
The Cy Young Award in the AL could very well come down to Porcello versus the Orioles Zach Britton. It would be nice if the Birds bats could shell the Red Sox righty to help out their own closer.
It’s possible. In two starts against Baltimore this year, Porcello has run hot and cold. Last week, he was phenomenal, allowing one run over eight innings. But back in June he kinda stunk, allowing five runs over six innings. Overall, the O’s are slashing .192/.208/.423 against Porcello.
The bullpen needs to be ready to go for the Birds. Bundy hasn’t gone more than six innings since August 2 and, as the O’s look to conserve his arm for both the playoffs and beyond, I wouldn’t expect much more tonight. He will be working off of five days of rest though, which is a good thing. This year he is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA and .148 batting average against when he gets five days between starts.
Game two: Tuesday, September 20, 7:05 p.m. on MASN and MLBN
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-7, 4.98 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (8-10, 3.43 ERA)
Boston’s lefty has had an OK season overall. An awful June (10.03 ERA over five starts) has sunk his numbers a tad. Against the O’s this year, he has made three starts and sits with a 4.40 ERA and is yet to go more than six innings. His latest start, against the Bronx Bombers, was a dud: 2.1 innings, four runs on eight hits.
On the other hand, Gausman is in the zone right now. You’ve almost surely seen the numbers. Over his last five starts, he’s 4-0, with a 0.82 ERA, and 32 strikeouts over 33 innings. Me likey. The flamethrower out-dueled Porcello just a few days ago. He hasn’t lost a game since August 13.
This is all really great and puts this matchup in the O’s favor. That is exactly why it worries me more than any other game this series. Please stay hot, Gaus!
Game three: Wednesday, September 21, 7:05 p.m. on MASN and ESPN
RHP Clay Buchholz (7-10, 5.20 ERA) vs. TBD
Currently, the Orioles website has no one set up to start here, but one has to think it will be Ubaldo Jimenez’s game, right? He would be on normal, four-day rest and has been terrific lately. However, that could be the problem. Most of his success has come when he gets an extra day of rest.
Buchholz is all over the place. He is back in the rotation again after spending the middle of the season in the Boston bullpen. Who knows what you are gonna get? The righty was decent against the Yankees recently; six innings, two runs on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts. But that was after a poor three-inning start where he gave up six runs. Sooo...complete game shutout?
Game four: Thursday, September 22, 7:05 p.m. on MASN
LHP David Price (16-8, 3.91 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.72 ERA)
Ace vs. ace! Oh yeah, baby! This is the big time!
This will be Tillman’s third start since returning from a disabled list stint a few weeks ago, so hopefully the cobwebs are gone and he can deliver a seven-inning performance. His first two outings have been...meh. But he is a big-game type of guy. I believe in you, Chris!!
Price got knocked around a bit over the weekend: six innings, five runs, nine hits. But apart from a start against the O’s back in April where he allowed five runs over five innings, he has been pretty solid against Baltimore. Including that start, he is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA over four starts when pitching versus the Orioles in 2016.
This is as big as regular season series get. Well...until the Orioles visit Toronto next week. Then that one could be even bigger. Whatever. Get hyped, Birdland!
How many games do you think the Orioles can pull out here? Let us know in the comments.