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Sunday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Red Sox, 1:10

Bruce Zimmermann makes his first start of the year as the Orioles look for a surprising three-game sweep to open the season.

Baltimore Orioles v Minnesota Twins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

You know, there are a lot of ways I could have seen the 2021 season starting out for the Orioles. The easy prediction would have been two non-competitive losses, but I also wouldn’t have been surprised by an offense-powered victory or two mixed in there.

But two O’s wins, in which they held their opponent to a total of two runs? I did not see that coming, not with all the question marks on this pitching staff. But thanks to John Means’ historically great Opening Day outing, and a combined quality effort by newcomers Matt Harvey and Adam Plutko yesterday, the Orioles are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2017. This afternoon, they’ll try for their first season-opening three-game sweep since 2016.

Remember, this is an Orioles club that didn’t sweep a single series in 2019, their last 162-game season. If they can pull off the feat today, it’d be their first time sweeping the Red Sox since August 2017, when their roster was nearly 100 percent different than it is today (Trey Mancini was the only currently active Oriole who played in that series).

The Birds will give the ball to the Maryland boy, Bruce Zimmermann, who dazzled in spring training by throwing nine scoreless relief innings before getting torched for seven runs (including three homers) in his tune-up start last week. Even with that rocky outing, Zimmermann had as many strikeouts (13) as baserunners allowed in spring. The 26-year-old lefty has made just one previous MLB start, giving up four runs in 3.1 innings to the Rays in his debut last Sept. 17. He followed that up with an impressive four-inning relief performance against these Red Sox on Sept. 23.

Zimmermann, who was born in Baltimore and attended Towson University, has yet to play a game in front of fans at Camden Yards, but if the current rotation holds, he’ll get the chance to do so this upcoming Saturday. For today, though, he’ll try to navigate the Fenway Park mound and lead the Birds to an unlikely sweep.

The O’s lineup is mostly similar to the first two games, but with Chance Sisco replacing Pedro Severino behind the plate for his season debut. In addition, Austin Hays, who is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts so far, has been dropped from sixth to eighth.

Orioles lineup:

CF Cedric Mullins
1B Trey Mancini
RF Anthony Santander
DH Ryan Mountcastle
2B Rio Ruiz
3B Maikel Franco
SS Freddy Galvis
LF Austin Hays
C Chance Sisco

LHP Bruce Zimmermann

Red Sox lineup:

CF Enrique Hernandez
LF Alex Verdugo
DH J.D. Martinez
SS Xander Bogaerts
3B Marwin Gonzalez
RF Hunter Renfroe
C Christian Vazquez
1B Bobby Dalbec
2B Christian Arroyo

RHP Garrett Richards