Red Sox Prepare to Face-Off Against the Orioles

Apr 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) takes the field before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) takes the field before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox are set to begin a three game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Can they win and secure the top spot in the American League East?

If you’re like me, each night before going to bed, you google the American League East standings to see if the Red Sox have finally passed the Baltimore Orioles to secure the division’s top spot. And if you do so, you’ve probably become frustrated by the fact that the Sox just can’t seem to finally get over the hump.

The problem is not that the Orioles aren’t necessarily a better team than the Red Sox, rather, it is that the two are so similar. Both are currently 36-26, with a .581 winning percentage.

This year, the Red Sox have played the Orioles seven times, recording a losing record of 3-4.

Tonight, the Red Sox will begin a three-game home series against the Orioles, and have a chance to put some space between them and their new division rival.  

Earlier this year, in their home opener, the Red Sox faced off against the Orioles in a three game series, where the Orioles came out on top 2-1.

More from BoSox Injection

In Game One of the series, David Price squared off against Yovani Gallardo. The two teams were tied 6-6 going into the ninth inning, when Craig Kimbrel gave up three runs in the top of ninth to give the Orioles the lead and then a victory. The Orioles scored nine runs in Game Two, hitting three home runs and recording eleven hits to win the game.  In Game Three, the Sox came back, winning 4-2, with Joe Kelly on the mound.

Later in the year, the two teams squared off in Baltimore in a hard-fought four-game series, in which each team walked away with two wins. Since then, the two have battled back and forth for first place in the American League East. And while the two seem similar when examining the standings, the Red Sox have recorded similar or superior statistics in nearly every offensive and pitching category.

Offensively, it’s no secret that the Red Sox have been one of the most dominant teams in the league. They currently lead the Orioles in hits (648-548), RBIs (352-286), runs (369-299), doubles (159-115), walks (200-215), and strikeouts (455-531). The Orioles do, however, lead in home runs (99-77).

More from Red Sox News

When it comes to pitching, it may surprise Boston fans that the now infamous Red Sox pitching staff has been on par with that of the Orioles. The Red Sox pitching staff  has allowed fewer home runs (66-69) and hits (497-561), and have recorded more strikeouts (530-463). The Orioles have allowed a few less earned runs (253-260), walked fewer batters (203-222), and have recorded a slightly lower team ERA (4.14-4.22).

That the Red Sox offense has been superb and that their pitching staff needs improvement is no surprise to even the most casual of fans. However, after comparing them to their division rivals, we see that while their pitching may not be as bad as previously thought, it truly is their barrier to dominating the division.

And with their pitching unlikely to improve, it seems as though the Red Sox will have to rely on their offense to earn them to a playoff spot.

Can it be done? Can a group of young players, an injury-prone second baseman and a 40 year-old slugger endure the rest of the season, and win the division? I don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s a lot easier for bats to get hot, than for arms to suddenly catch fire, giving the Orioles an advantage.

Both teams will enter tonight’s series well-rested after a day-off  yesterday. And both teams also suffered tough losses on Sunday. For the Red Sox, it was a walk-off home run against the Minnesota Twins, and for the Orioles, it was their third loss in a row to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Price and Chris Tillman will square off in game one tonight at 7:10 PM. Price, who has struggled in recent starts, currently has a 4.63 ERA, and will have to have a top-notch performance to beat the Orioles offense that features the likes of Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis.

Tillman, who has yet to face the Red Sox, has only two losses on the season, and currently has an ERA of 3.01. He too will have to face an offensive powerhouse that features five players hitting over .300 in the last thirty days.

Steven Wright and Tyler Wilson will be on the mound for game two. Wright has been phenomenal recently, and currently has the lowest ERA in the American League (2.09) and has allowed only four runs in his last four starts, and zero in his last two.

In game three, the young Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound for the Red Sox, and Kevin Gausman for the Orioles. While he has only made three starts this season, Rodriguez has already beaten the Orioles. In his debut on May 31, he allowed only two runs and six hits in six innings, earning the win and the love of Red Sox fans who rejoiced both the young pitcher’s performance and his replacing of Clay Buchholz.

Hopefully Rodriguez will be able to emulate this past success. In his last start on June 11 against the Twins, he went only 4.2 innings, allowing four runs, six hits, and four walks.

Next: Red Sox Strut

This series is an important one for the Red Sox. It’s outcome will set the tone for the rest of the season, and provide a glimpse into what will surely be a fight to the finish in the American League East.