The Orioles finally ended an exhausting nine-game losing streak over the weekend against the Cleveland Indians. After splitting the series with the Tribe, the Birds continue their home stand against the Boston Red Sox.
Baltimore may be in luck for tonight’s opening game of the series, as Boston may feel a bit sluggish coming off a 16-inning win in Tampa. While the Sox are riding a seven-game winning streak against the Birds, the most important factor may be the addition of a healthy Carl Crawford back in their line-up.
This series has seen its share of hostility. Fans can remember the series in Boston just before the All-Star break, when benches cleared and bean-balls were thrown. Boston slugger David Ortiz and Orioles closer Kevin Gregg both will miss the entire series due to suspensions passed down from Major League Baseball.
While the Red Sox may be one of the hottest teams in the majors, most of their success can be attributed to AL batting leader, Adrian Gonzalez, who is 16 for 32 with six doubles, one home run and eight RBI against the Birds.
Game 1: Monday, July 18 at 7:05—RHP Tim Wakefield vs. RHP Brad Bergesen
Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.74 ERA) will take the hill for Boston in the series opener. He’s coming off a seven inning win against Toronto on 12 days rest. Given the recent injuries that have plagued the Boston starting rotation, Wakefield has been given new life as a starter. While his last appearance may have included nine hits, the 44-year-old struck out seven.
Emergency starter Brad Bergesen (1-6, 5.65 ERA) looks to do his part in extending Baltimore’s two-game streak to three in the series opener. Bergesen’s last start was cut short as he left with an injury to his arm in Boston. In his last start, Bergesen couldn’t make it out of the first inning, giving up four runs.
Look for Baltimore to make a strong push early against Wakefield and the tired Red Sox. Manager Buck Showalter needs Bergesen to give him at least six strong innings of work.
Game 2: Tuesday, July 19 at 7:05—RHP Kyle Weiland vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie
While Kyle Weiland (0-0, 13.50 ERA) is still green behind the ears, Jeremy Guthrie (3-13, 4.45 ERA) is a seasoned vet. These two square off in what looks to be a crucial game. While Weiland did not have a fantastic start to his major league career by getting thrown out in his last game against the birds, the Orioles still have yet to see the young right-hander as he goes deep in the game.
Guthrie desperately needs to get his season back on track. His last start against Cleveland wasn’t his best performance, as the 32-year-old gave up six runs on five hits and a pair of home runs.
Look for Guthrie to break his four-game losing decision skid in this one. Over the season, Jeremy has shown moments of absolute greatness. Tuesday could be his bounce-back, considering he has only given up one earned run to Boston all year.
Game 3: Wednesday, July 20 at 12:35—LHP Andrew Miller vs. RHP Jake Arrieta
Andrew Miller (3-1, 5.68 ERA) is coming off of one of the worst outings in his young career. His seven earned runs on five hits against Tampa Bay on July 15th can either motivate him or break him. He’s not a strikeout machine; in fact, he only has three K’s in his last three outings. As Boston’s rotation continues its woes, Miller needs a good showing.
Jake Arrieta is still in search of his tenth win of the season, and it should come as surprise that the young right-hander would eventually hit a wall. His fast start had many wondering if Arrieta could be the first Orioles 20-game winner since Mike Boddicker in 1984. Arrieta looks to rebound in this afternoon series finale.
By the Numbers:
- The Orioles are trailing in the season series at 2-6, and the all-time series at 419-510
- Last week, Nick Markakis was named American League Player of the week. His 6-14 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI also aided in his quest to reach the 1,000th hit milestone. Markakis also has a 10-game hit streak going.
- The Orioles brought up INF Josh Bell and RHP Mark Worrell from Triple-A Norfolk. Worrell is 900th player to wear an Orioles uniform.
- Koji Uehara leads all AL relievers with a 7.25 strikeout to walk ratio. He is also sixth among all AL relievers in strikeouts per inning (11.86).
- The Orioles have been outscored 13-36 in their last 5 games.