Orioles return home to host AL East leading Red Sox

BALTIMORE — The post Manny Machado era is officially here and for a split second the Orioles managed to fool us into thinking they could compete without their best player. Anyone that watched this weekend’s series against Toronto knows that trickery was short lived though.

On Friday the Birds resumed their 2018 campaign by taking on the Blue Jays and even staged a late game comeback to force extra innings. However, the Orioles would end up losing after Tim Beckham misplayed a ground ball in the bottom of the tenth. Say what you will about Machado playing shortstop this season but if was on the field Friday night, that game doesn’t end in the tenth.

After dropping Saturday’s game 4-1, the Orioles found themselves in a position to win late in Sunday’s finale. An RBI double by Renato Nunez and a defensive error by Toronto allowed the O’s to score two in the top of the eighth and extend their lead to 4-1. Brad Brach entered the game out of the pen in the bottom half of the inning and proceeded to surrender a two RBI homer, cutting the lead to just one run. Tanner Scott followed Brach in an attempt to close out the inning but gave up a two run shot of his own, leading Toronto to their ninth victory over the Orioles this season.

To make things worse, the road ahead does not look encouraging for Buck Showalter’s team. The Orioles will play three more AL East opponents before the end of July rolls around, starting with this home stand against Boston.

Last meeting: The Orioles hosted Boston back in mid June and the visiting Red Sox came out on top with a three game sweep by outscoring the O’s 13-5. Looking back the sweep comes as no surprise as the Orioles were in the middle of a season high nine game losing streak.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Monday, July 23, 7:05 pm – Kevin Gausman (4-7, 4.33 ERA) vs Rick Porcello (11-4, 4.13 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Tuesday, July 24, 7:05 pm – Yefry Ramirez (0-3, 3.09 ERA) vs Drew Pomeranz (1-3, 6.81 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Wednesday, July 25, 7:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (6-9, 4.57 ERA) vs David Price (11-6, 4.17 ERA) – MASN, ESPN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Red Sox:

  • Mookie Betts is always a player to fear if you’re an Orioles fan. The Red Sox right fielder holds a batting average of .286 with 42 RBI’s in 71 career games against the O’s and so far in 2018 Betts has shown no signs of slowing down against Baltimore pitching. In the eight games between Boston and Baltimore so far this season, Betts has gone 11-31 at the plate with three home runs and six RBI’s.
  • Drew Pomeranz will be making his first start since May 31 on Tuesday. The Boston starter landed on the disabled list earlier this season with biceps tendentious, halting his season before he could get some momentum going. In the eight starts prior to the injury Pomeranz accumulated an ERA of 6.83 and only made it past the fifth inning on two occasions. Pomeranz holds a 2-4 record with a 4.01 ERA in nine career appearances against the Orioles.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Mychal Givens has had a roller coaster season in the Orioles bullpen. The inconsistencies have resulted in a 4.56 ERA but if there is a team that you can trust Givens to perform well against, it’s the Red Sox. Givens holds a 1.71 ERA against Boston, which is the lowest ERA against any team he has thrown at least 20 innings against.
  • With Manny Machado out of the lineup, the Orioles are in desperate need of a consistent leader at the plate. Jonathan Schoop may be having a down year but so far in July, the second baseman has been producing in his at bats. The O’s second baseman has recorded a hit in 16 of his last 17 games to help give himself a .352 batting average in the month of July.

Image credit: Patrick McDermott / USA Today Sports

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Orioles prepare for battle with AL East leading Red Sox

In 2017 the Orioles and Red Sox engaged in a season long battle that saw many ugly games and a lot of tension. This weekend, the two AL East teams will meet for the first time in the 2018 season. The only question is, will the tension spill over?

Orioles fans will certainly remember the ongoing antics between the Red Sox pitching staff and Manny Machado after the O’s third baseman injured Dustin Pedroia on a slide into second base early last season. They will also remember the racial slurs that were directed at Adam Jones when the O’s traveled to Boston the following week. There is no question that these were two of the lowest points of 2017 for both teams. Even though the extra circulars faded as the season progressed, the games remained intense and highly entertaining with the Orioles barely taking the season series 10-9.

As these two teams prepare to meet for the first time this season, many wonder if the nonsense of last year will carry over to 2018. I don’t have the answers to that question, but what I do know is that this series will be very important for both teams despite it only being April.

The Red Sox are off to a hot start. They will enter this weekend’s series sitting at the top of the AL East with a 10-2 record. The Orioles, on the other hand, will enter this four game set seeking yet another bounce back performance as they continue to try to get some momentum going in the first month of the season.

It should also be noted that the Orioles are coming off of their only scheduled off day this month while the Red Sox are coming into the weekend fresh off a heated series with the New York Yankees.

On paper this has all the makings of a great series. The Patriots Day festivities will draw a lot of attention on Monday but the first three games should be just as entertaining with a handful of good pitching matchups throughout the series. Sunday’s stands out with both teams top starters, Dylan Bundy and Chris Sale, squaring off.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1: Friday, April 13, 7:10 pm – Chris Tillman (0-2, 8.68 ERA) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0, 7.36 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, April 14, 1:05 pm – Alex Cobb (2017: 12-10, 3.66 ERA) vs Hector Velazquez (1-0, 3.12 ERA) – MLB Network, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, April 15, 1:05 pm – Dylan Bundy (0-1, 1.35 ERA) vs Chris Sale (1-0, 1.06 ERA) – MLB Network, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 4: Monday, April  16, 11:05 am Andrew Cashner (1-1, 2.50 ERA) vs David Price (1-1, 2.40 ERA) – MLB Network, MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Red Sox:

  • This weekends series in Boston will conclude with the annual Patriots Day game on Monday. The game will start at 11:05 am to coincide with the Boston Marathon and will mark the seventh meeting between the Orioles and Red Sox on the holiday. Boston holds a 4-2 advantage in those games and have also won 12 of their last 17 games on Patriots Day.
  • The Red Sox have started the 2018 season with more than their fair share of divisional matchups. Facing so many familiar opponents in such a short span of time is difficult for any team but Boston has already won eight of their ten games against other AL East teams.
  • Over the past four seasons Mookie Betts has played 63 games against the Baltimore Orioles. He holds a .278 batting average with 12 home runs and 36 RBI’s in his career against the O’s, making him the top threat every time these teams square off.

Notes on Orioles:

  • Chris Tillman will get the start in game one and will be looking for his first win in quite some time. After signing a one-year deal to return to Baltimore this season, Tillman had a lot to prove if he was going to get another chance at the major league level. So far that process has not gone well for the veteran starter. Tillman has not been credited with a win since May 7 of last year and holds a 7.93 ERA since then.
  • Fans will get their first look at Alex Cobb as an Orioles starter this weekend. The Red Sox are a tough lineup to face in your first start of the year but Cobb has seen some good success at Fenway Park in his six major league seasons. The former Tampa Bay Ray holds a 5-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in seven career starts in Boston. Cobb has also only surrendered one home run in 40 career innings at Fenway.

Image credit: Sports Illustrated