The Orioles find themselves in a very different battle than Boston with one week to play. Perhaps picking first in next year’s draft ranks ahead of knocking of the Sox, but there would be something sweet about sticking it to those guys again.
Andino and several other members of that 2011 team have said that the series marked a turning point for the organization. Sure, players can learn something from playing in meaningful games this time of the year, but it requires the group to buy into the process. Otherwise, it’s just three more games against a better team.
Baltimore will have three young starters on the mound that fit that profile. Back in April, it would make sense that Bruce Zimmermann, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells would be starting games for the Orioles in September. How they got here would represent a bit of a surprise.
Zimmermann broke camp with the team but suffered an injury in July. Lowther and Wells struggled initially, but both looked like big leaguers their last time out.
The Red Sox will enter the season clinging to a spot for the one-game playoff. New York, Toronto and Seattle are also in contention for the two wild-card spots up for grabs. The Orioles have already stuck a thorn in New York’s side this season; do they have something for Boston?
The series will be the last at Camden Yards this season.
Game 1: Tuesday, 7:05
Starters: LHP Bruce Zimmermann (4-4, 4.88 ERA) vs. LHP Chris Sale (5-0, 2.57 ERA)
Both lefties missed significant time due to injuries this year, but only Sale holds the pedigree of a dominant starting pitcher. Sale missed nearly two years after having Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020. The former All-Star has mostly looked the part since his return, but his 3.82 FIP is over a full run higher than his 2.57 ERA.
Zimmermann will make his first start since heading to the injured list with left-bicep tendonitis back in July. The 26-year-old suffered a setback with an unrelated ankle injury, but it is encouraging that he can still return before the end of the season. Zimmermann allowed five runs in 6.1 innings between two rehab starts. He will replace Keegan Akin in the rotation.
Game 2: Wednesday, 7:05
LHP Zac Lowther (1-2, 7.66 ERA) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (10-9, 3.88 ERA)
Lowther will take the mound looking to build on a strong performance against Toronto. The lefty limited the Blue Jays to just two his over five innings last week. He struck out seven and did not allow a run. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare well his last time out against Boston. Lowther allowed three runs in just 3.1 innings on September 18.
Eovaldi holds a 1.202 WHIP over 31 starts this season. He took a hard loss against the Orioles back in April after allowing just one run in 5.1 innings, and did not receive a decision after allowing three runs in five innings two weeks ago.
Game 3: Thursday, 7:05
LHP Alexander Wells (1-3, 7.61 ERA) vs. TBD
The Orioles will start three young, left-handed pitchers in this series. That’s very exciting in a vacuum. The fact that two of the three ERA’s start with the number seven throws some water on the fire, though.
Wells gave the club a chance to win his last time out. The 24-year-old allowed three runs to Texas over five innings. He gave up five runs in five innings against Boston two weeks ago. Wells has never had a high-strikeout reputation, but the lefty must discover his pinpoint control if he hopes to hang in the Orioles rotation next season.
Zimmermann figures to have an inside track on a spot after a strong start to this season, but spots are never guaranteed—just ask Akin and Dean Kremer. All three can take a step forward with a strong outing against the Sox. Do they have it in them?
How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
This poll is closed
3 (Orioles sweep)
0 (Orioles get swept)