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Orioles-Red Sox series preview: A quick AL East rivalry clash

The Orioles will face the Red Sox this week, but the good news is that the lineup won’t have to face Boston’s top three arms. But there will be knuckleballs!

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It has already been one heck of a season for the Orioles, as two AL East battles have wrapped up with series wins. Now at 4-1, Buck Showalter’s guys hit the road for the first time in 2017, traveling to Fenway Park to take the Boston Red Sox.

There’s no David Ortiz to wreak havoc on a regular basis, but that isn’t much of an advantage for anyone facing Boston this season. This year, the roster is plenty stacked with an impressive mix of veterans and young bats that can sustain a significant run throughout the year.

The good news for the Orioles might be the unhealthy nature of the early-season Red Sox, a team that has struggled with David Price’s arm issues, the flu bug and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s knee.

After taking two early games against the Pirates, the Sox dropped three of four against the Tigers over the weekend. You can find the game-by-game numbers here, but below are the notable early storylines:

  • Andrew Benintendi is is just 4-23 to start the season. Pablo Sandoval is just 3-23 and went 0-11 in the last three games against the Tigers.
  • Mitch Moreland collected eight hits in the series against Detroit.
  • The Orioles will miss Chris Sale and Rick Porcello, Boston’s top two arms with Price on the shelf.

Now, let’s get onto previewing this mid-week quick AL East series. It’s only a two-game set, one that kicks off a nine-game road stretch away from OPACY.

Game 1 — Tuesday, April 11th

Dylan Bundy (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (2016: 11-12, 3.32 ERA)

A Bundy game! Something tells me that every five days this year, we’re all going to be in for a treat. Bundy’s first game against Toronto was special, flashing plenty of movement on all pitches and showing a strong grasp of his control. He struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter, not a bad sign for the rest of the way.

Now, you could take that number and contrast it with Bundy’s 2016 numbers against Boston and admittedly be nervous. He allowed 31 hits in 20.1 IP, giving up a whopping six HRs, walking eight and striking out just 10. So, there’s that.

There aren’t many on the Boston roster who didn’t hit well against Bundy, but Hanley Ramirez did only post a 1-9. That’s better than, say, Mookie Betts (4-9, 2 HR) and Dustin Pedroia (5-11).

Pomeranz is getting his first start of the year after experiencing arm discomfort in a spring start in mid-March. He’ll take the mound to begin his first full-season with the Red Sox after being traded away last season from the Padres. Pomeranz posted a 2016 1.36 WHIP and 4.59 ERA with Boston in 14 outings, still striking out 9.3 BB/9, his best ability.

The left-hander (bad news, yes) hasn’t had many opportunities against the Orioles, but a few members of the lineup have performed well in small sample sizes. Welington Castillo has a 2-4 with a HR, while J.J. Hardy belted a HR in his one of his two ABs.

Game 2 — Wednesday, April 12th

Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) vs. Steven Wright (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

Not much needs to be said about the expectations for Jimenez this season. He is where he is at this point in his career — Showalter and Co. must simply be hopeful that he can hold on and eat innings at the back of the rotation. If you were looking for encouraging news regarding his splits against Boston, you can keep looking. Current Boston hitters have hit .279 against Ubaldo, with the big names performing best.

Mookie Betts is 8-19 with a double and three walks. Xander Bogaerts is 7-20 with four walks and five RBI. Dustin Pedroia is 11-32 with four walks and four RBI. We could keep going. The best case for Ubaldo revolves around control — limiting free passes against Boston’s lethal lineup is key, especially considering they’ll do plenty of damage with their bats.

The best chance for Orioles victory might come via Wright’s performance in a potentially high-scoring affair. Unfortunately again, the numbers don’t exactly spell victory for the Birds here. Wright has thrown just 22 innings against Baltimore since 2014, but he’s held the lineup to just a .182 average against. Worse yet, current O’s hitters have a combined .141 average against Wright with — brace yourself — a .233 on-base percentage. That’s a 9-64 combined with just six walks.


How many games will the Orioles win this series?

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  • 32%
    (107 votes)
  • 61%
    (204 votes)
  • 6%
    (22 votes)
333 votes total Vote Now