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Orioles-Red Sox series preview: The battle for first place

The only series that the Orioles haven’t won so far this year was the last time they played the Red Sox. Can they keep the good times rolling?

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

After a brief National League palate cleanser, the Orioles return to their April all-you-can-eat AL East buffet for a weekend series against the Red Sox. As this series begins, the Orioles have yet to lose a series so far this season, and the only one they didn’t win was a split of two games the last time they played the Red Sox.

The Orioles will see if they can keep that series-winning streak rolling this weekend at home against the Sox. Expect the hordes of rude bandwagoners to roll up from Northern Virginia this weekend and possibly flood south from Southie. As it turns out, the Orioles will literally be rolling out the welcome mats for the Boston fans this weekend: That’s Saturday’s giveaway.

One bit of good news for this early-season division battle with first place at stake is that the Boston pitching staff will be like a broken cash register in the series. There is no Sale.

What there will be is two left-handed starting pitchers and one knuckleballer, so if you are part of the Hyun Soo Kim defense brigade, be prepared to man the battlements over the next few days.

Game 1: Friday, 7:05

Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 5.23 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (2-1, 1.86)

This is a rematch of the starting pitchers from the April 11 game that the Orioles lost to the Red Sox, 8-1. Bundy had a quality start despite the lopsided loss, though with how the Orioles offense is hitting right now, hopefully he can manage to do better still.

Pomeranz isn’t exactly the kind of scrub-tier lefty that you imagine the Orioles being horrible against forever and ever, but he hasn’t been all that great since the Sox traded for him last year. The players don’t have much history against him.

As a team against lefties, though the sample size isn’t extensive yet, the Orioles are once again among the worst, with a .647 OPS to date, more than 100 points lower than how they’re hitting righties.

Not much history for Bundy against the Red Sox either. Beware Mookie Betts, though, which unfortunately seems like it will be good advice for some time to come. Particularly beware him in the opening game because Betts has homered twice off Bundy in 15 plate appearances to date.

Game 2: Saturday, 7:05

Steven Wright (1-1, 8.36 ERA) vs. Jayson Aquino (first start)

A big reason that Wright has such a high ERA in three starts is that the Orioles blasted him the last time they saw him on April 12. The knuckler was not knuckling and the Orioles batters were not missing. Has he gotten his act together between then and now? Let’s hope not.

One thing that the Orioles could use if they’re going to keep succeeding in 2017 is for Manny Machado to stop slumping. Don’t count on that happening against Wright. Although Machado has only faced him 11 times, so it doesn’t tell us that much, the small sample is not encouraging. Machado has one hit in 11 plate appearances.

If you watched Alec Asher’s Orioles debut against the Blue Jays last Sunday, you were probably hoping to see more of him. However, as the fifth starter turn comes up again, the Orioles have summoned the lefty, Aquino, from the minors. Asher will be in the bullpen for the time being.

Given that Boston has also struggled against left-handed pitching so far this season, with a .652 OPS, is it possible that the Orioles are deploying against another team that stratagem so often used against them: That is, throw any lefty on the mound and expect success? Aquino has never started a game at the MLB level, so hold on to your butts.

Game 3: Sunday, 1:35

Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 4.76 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (1-1, 7.23 ERA)

The potential for agony for Orioles fans is high in a matchup between the prospect the Orioles traded away and became sometimes good and the one that they kept who’s never quite reached the high hopes everyone had for him.

By now, a handful of Sox have seen a bit of Gausman. Watch out for Betts once again, who’s homered twice off Gausman in 22 PA and has a 1.169 OPS in total. Gausman looks better against Xander Bogaerts, who has been held to a .556 OPS in 27 PA.

Are the Orioles going to keep getting destroyed by Mitch Moreland? Can we maybe not have that be a thing? He’s not limited the damage to the O’s, though. Moreland is batting .344/.420/.574 on the season, fueled by a .476 BABIP. I feel confident in saying that one will fall.

On the other hand, Dustin Pedroia is probably not going to keep batting .254/.318/.271, nor is Hanley Ramirez likely to keep batting .224/.296/.286. If those guys start to turn it around against Gausman or either of the previous Orioles pitchers, that will be a bad sign for the series.

Although I have called this series a battle for first place, it’s quite possible that neither team ends up in first in the division at the end of it. If the Yankees, who face the Pirates this weekend, keep on winning, the Orioles could even win this series against the Red Sox and still potentially be behind the Yankees at the conclusion of the weekend.


How many games will the Orioles win in this series?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    The Orioles will be swept by the Red Sox
    (55 votes)
  • 20%
    (132 votes)
  • 56%
    (372 votes)
  • 14%
    The Orioles will sweep the Red Sox
    (94 votes)
653 votes total Vote Now