Beating the Orioles won’t be as easy as it used to be for the Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox will be in for a rude awakening when they arrive at Camden Park to spend the weekend with the Baltimore Orioles.
Over the past few years, the Orioles have been one of baseball’s punching bags and punchlines. They lost 100+ games last year for the third time in four seasons, and the only reason they didn’t go 4-for-4 is that 2020 was a 60-game campaign. They were projected to lose 100+ games again this year.
Not quite! While the Sox have fallen under .500, the O’s are one of the surprise hits of the summer. Over the last three months, they’ve compiled the best record in the American League East; they’re 47-35 since May 17, one game ahead of the Yankees, and two ahead of the Sox over that span.
In other words, these aren’t the flightless birds of years past; this team is soaring, flying. If you now have “Breaking Free” from High School Musical in your head, I’m sorry.
The Sox are underperforming and beset by injuries. They’re not the team that won 108 games in 2018 or went to the ALCS last year. Likewise, the O’s are not the team that was so bad in 2018 that Sox manager Alex Cora had Chris Sale do a late-summer rehab start against them, likening them to being so easy to beat that they were practically a minor-league team. Cora wasn’t wrong: Sale struck out 12 over five shutout innings that day.
How are the Orioles doing it? They traded Jorge Lopez and Trey Mancini at the deadline. Their bullpen looks stacked, but the starting rotation is a mixed bag and they’re not exactly overflowing with power hitters. Like the Sox, the O’s only have one batter in their lineup with 20+ home runs. They’re winning games, though.
In addition to the team’s turnaround, their ballpark is less of a hitter’s paradise than it used to be. The Orioles renovated Camden Yards ahead of this season to make it more difficult for batters to hit home runs to left field. The new wall is approximately five feet taller and 30 feet farther away from home plate. Hopefully, that won’t stop Rafael Devers, who loves hitting in Baltimore. The only team he’s homered off more is the Yankees. Most of his 25 home runs this year have gone to right, but like most of his teammates, he’s scuffling.
These aren’t the same Orioles and it won’t be the same ballpark. And as we’ve seen all season, these definitely aren’t the same Sox.
Manage your expectations, Red Sox Nation.