The Orioles avoided the sweep in the Bronx with a wild extra-inning finish to complete the first road trip of the year, thus bringing the team home for the home opener this afternoon!
The Orioles will see the Boston Red Sox once again, and boy is that a breath of fresh air after this last series with the Yankees. Slated to start the three games in this series are Matt Harvey, Bruce Zimmermann, and Jorge López.
Unlike the opening series, the Orioles will not have to face Boston’s grunting ace, Nathan Eovaldi. Instead, they will see former Oriole prospect Eduardo Rodriguez in his first game since battling myocarditis all of last season. Let me just say, this is awesome for Rodriguez!
Red hot Cedric Mullins comes home to Baltimore amidst a six-game hit streak, in which he is 12-for-25 with three doubles, a home run, and a single RBI.
In order to have success, a few things must happen. Here are The Baltimore Battery’s Keys to the Series!
Keys to the Series:
1. Improve on shaky starts by the back end of the rotation.
In the series against the Yankees, Jorge López and Dean Kremer did not throw their best games. However, they weren’t the worst either. First off, both of these pitchers much throw first pitch strikes, something that eluded them both in their first start. Also, the walks will kill both of them. As we saw in López’s first start, three straight walks led to a grand slam that completely put the game out of reach. Get ahead of hitters, and make them have to hit offspeed and breaking pitches, something both Kremer and López throw very well.
2. The strikeouts must be cut down.
In six games this season, the Orioles have struck out 74 times… 74 times! That is absurd. A big part of that has been being too aggressive early in counts, getting down very quickly. Besides Cedric Mullins, the Oriole hitters must take more pitches, drive the starter’s pitch count up, and see better pitches to hit. Winning games with four to five base hits and 10+ strikeouts is not something that will happen very often.
3. Stick with the Tanner Scott and César Valdez combo out of the pen.
So far this year, we have seen Tanner Scott acting as the setup man to closer César Valdez, and that combination is working very well. The Orioles aren’t going to score a bunch of runs all of the time, so a combination like that to close out games has already proven to be useful. Valdez already has three saves on the year, two of which were set up by Scott. When you show a team a 98-100 mph fastball and a sweeping slider before throwing them that dead fish changeup by Valdez, it really throws hitters off when you need to hold a small lead. Expect to see this combination at least twice in this series.
Here are today’s starting lineups:
Boston Red Sox (3-3):
1. Enrique Hernández CF
2. Alex Verdugo RF
3. J.D. Martinez DH
4. Rafael Devers 3B
5. Christian Vázquez C
6. Marwin Gonzalez SS
7. Christian Arroyo 2B
8. Franchy Cordero LF
9. Bobby Dalbec 1B
SP. Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
Baltimore Orioles (4-2):
1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Trey Mancini 1B
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Ryan Mountcastle LF
5. Maikel Franco DH
6. Pedro Severino C
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Rio Ruiz 3B
9. Pat Valaika 2B
SP. Matt Harvey RHP
Today’s game is available on the flagship station of the O’s, 105.7 The Fan, and on MASN. Pre-game festivities are scheduled for 2:05 p.m. EST, with first pitch set for 3:05 p.m. EST.
Still holding onto first place, the Orioles have a good opportunity to stay atop the division in this early season. The Red Sox have yet to beat the Orioles, and another series win over Boston would tell a lot about where the Birds sit in terms of their development.
What are your thoughts and predictions for this series? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on the web and on Facebook and Twitter!
Let’s Go O’s!