It’s not the first or last time you’ll hear this in April for every team — but baseball is so great this time of year because of the optimism that exists throughout the league. You don’t have to be the Astros or the Nationals to have high hopes on April 13th. It’s the beauty of baseball and it’s what makes series like the Orioles upcoming matchup with the Red Sox that much sweeter.
Three games out of four? Why not. A sweep? A stretch — but again, why not?
Regardless of the anticipated results, it’s Orioles/Red Sox at Fenway Park. In other words, it’s going to be a great weekend of baseball.
Game 1: Thursday, 7:10 PM
Chris Tillman (0-2, 8.68 ERA) vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0, 7.36 ERA)
Here’s a game that could go one of two very extreme ways. Alas, with Chris Tillman, that is fairly par for the course. Tillman against the Red Sox at Fenway is a scary thought, but crazier things have happened than Tillman being able to toss a gem against a division foe in game one of a series. The bad news is that the Orioles offense will need to provide run support, not an easy task against a guy like Rodriguez.
The left-hander struggled in his first start against the Yankees, but his consistency over the past three seasons has been impressive. His dominance is real and it’s hit the Orioles, a lineup that has struck out 63 times in 54 innings against. The career .236 average against Rodriguez doesn’t quite spell out success. But again, it’s baseball. Any given night!
Game 2: Saturday, 1:05 PM
Alex Cobb vs. Hector Velazquez (1-0, 3.12 ERA)
It was undecided as of Saturday night, but it’ll be Velazquez taking the hill for the Sox on Saturday. The 29-year-old’s experience is limited, but he’s fared well in 8.2 innings this season, allowing eight hits and three earned. In his limited work in 2017, he never faced the Orioles.
Regardless of what happens in this game, the storyline of Alex Cobb is a simple one. No matter what version of the Orioles offense decides to show up, Cobb steals the spotlight for Saturday afternoon.
The Red Sox, of course, have experience against Cobb, who has tossed 84 innings against Boston over his career with good success (3.43 ERA, 1.25 WHIP). The goal here is for him to settle into his role as a key member of the rotation and to find a rhythm that propels him for the rest of the season. The Orioles don’t need him to be perfect — with this roster, perfection doesn’t exist. But at the very least, you’d like to see Cobb be a bit more than an innings eater in 2018.
Game 3: Sunday, 1:05 PM
Dylan Bundy (0-1, 1.35 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (1-0, 1.06 ERA)
This game could go either way in terms of which team wins, but they both involve Sale striking out at least 26 batters.
That might be extreme, but that’s how it feels every time this guy takes the mound. Especially against the Orioles, domination is a bit of an understatement. Last season, he was a crisp 3-0 with a 0.75 WHIP against the Birds in three games and 22 innings of work. He struck out 33 and allowed just 13 hits. That’s pretty good. So to expect anything different here probably isn’t wise.
The Orioles’ hope lies in Dylan Bundy, who continues to showcase that all he needed was an extended period of health to become who the Orioles thought he was from the beginning. This Sunday matchup, while it’s just one of the many games he’ll start this year, could actually be somewhat significant. Working a good outing in a duel with Sale could do wonders for confidence. It’s a tough task, but Bundy Sundays have provided plenty of encouraging performances in the past.
Game 4: Monday, 11:05 AM
Andrew Cashner (1-1, 2.50 ERA) vs. TBD
Here’s an interesting TBD after David Price’s arm issue on Wednesday. The below tweet provides a bit more clarity.
If Hector Velazquez isn't needed in the bullpen tonight, he starts Saturday. If Velazquez does pitch tonight, Johnson starts Saturday. If Price can't go Monday, whichever of those two doesn't pitch Saturday will go Monday. You get it?— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 12, 2018
No matter what happens with Price and the Sox, one thing is for sure — it’ll be Andrew Cashner toeing the rubber for Monday’s final matchup. The real question is a simple one: which Andrew Cashner will we end up seeing?
If it’s the guy who tossed a seven-inning, four-hit gem against Toronto on Tuesday, the final result should be a good one. That being said, that first start against the Twins still lingers. If this outing goes positively, it’ll be three straight dominant AL East performances. Here’s hoping that’s how this shakes out and we don’t have to think back to the miserable March outing.
How many games will the Orioles win this series?
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