The Orioles, winners of four of their last six, travel back home after a road trip out in California and Washington to play the rival Boston Red Sox for four.
On that road trip, the Orioles took a series from both the Athletics and Mariners, which included John Means’ no-hitter in game three against Seattle. Now this weekend, the Orioles have their hands full with a long series against the A.L.-East-leading Red Sox.
On the mound for the Orioles will be everyone besides John Means, with the starter for game two yet to be determined. Originally, that third spot was held by Bruce Zimmermann, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk last week.
Sitting one game under .500, the Orioles can secure an even record or better and continue to surprise people with their offense and bullpen, if they are able to just take two of these four games. However, that is no small task. The Red Sox can play. For the Orioles to find success in this series, they must follow these Keys to the Series!
1. Back of the rotation must continue what they did last week
During the previous six-game road trip, there was quality pitching from the entire rotation, including Jorge López and Dean Kremer. Kremer notched his first quality start against the Mariners, and López was also able to hold his own. If those two pitchers can limit the damage from the Red Sox, the bullpen and red hot offense truly stands a chance. A big part of the rotation’s success has been their ability to actually throw strikes, and the Red Sox are the last team you want to give free pitches.
2. Just keep hitting
“Just keep hitting, just keep hitting! All we have to do is hit, hit, hit!”
On the road trip, the Orioles’ offense recorded at least seven base hits in every game, while reaching 10 twice. That took a lot of pressure off the pitchers and allowed them to work ahead in the ball games, which made López and Kremer much better. The Red Sox are going to hit the ball; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about that. However, the Orioles can hit too. If Cedric Mullins, Trey Mancini, and Austin Hays can stay hot, they can match the production from the opposite side from Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Alex Verdugo. Ironically, Bogaerts and Mullins are numbers one and two as the A.L. hits leaders at the moment.
3. Bullpen vs Bullpen
On paper, the Orioles and Red Sox look vastly different. On the field, they don’t vary all that much, actually. Both feature a rotation that is certainly highlighted by their aces (Means for the Orioles and Rodriguez/Eovaldi for the Red Sox). Behind that, things get a little murky. Both teams have thrived so far on offense and in their bullpen, as the pen for either side will be the X-factor. Going into the late game trailing the Red Sox is very dangerous.
Boston’s bullpen, which includes Matt Andriese and Matt Barnes, has been pitching lights out. However, the Oriole bullpen of Adam Plutko, Tanner Scott, and César Valdez have as well. This series will come down to which team can produce early and give themselves an easier road once each bullpen must enter. But along with that, both teams will suffer if these bullpens get worn out too much, especially in a four-game series played on consecutive days. The winning team will be the one whose bullpen is able to come in and secure a tight game, which all four have the potential to be.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups for game one:
Boston Red Sox (19-13):
1. Marwin Gonzalez 2B
2. Alex Verdugo CF
3. J.D. Martinez DH
4. Xander Bogaerts SS
5. Rafael Devers 3B
6. Christian Vázquez C
7. Hunter Renfroe RF
8. Franchy Cordero LF
9. Bobby Dalbec 1B
SP. Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
Baltimore Orioles (15-16):
1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Austin Hays RF
3. Trey Mancini DH
4. Pedro Severino C
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Ryan Mountcastle LF
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Pat Valaika 1B
9. Ramón Urías 2B
SP. Matt Harvey RHP
Tonight’s game is available on MASN and the flagship station of the O’s, 105.7 The Fan. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EST., with a special pre-game ceremony tonight at 6:42 p.m. EST to recognize John Means, who threw the sixth no-hitter in franchise history Wednesday in Seattle.
The season series between these two teams right now is split 3-3, and after this series, one team will have the advantage. Bold prediction: the Orioles are able to come away with three wins in this series on the back of Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, and the bullpen.
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