Red Sox- Orioles Series Preview

Greetings from Boston,
where I had the rare luxury of flying here a day before the Orioles-Red Sox
series.

 As some of you might have read, I flew home
from San Francisco on Monday to get my stuff and drive and move into my place
in Baltimore. I’m back now and having read up on the Seattle series, as well as
having caught snippets of the games, it doesn’t look like I missed much.

SAME OLD STORY: The
Orioles have three more losses and the story lines are virtually the same: When
will this team start to hit? If you take out Ty Wigginton the offensive stats are even more alarming,
considering Wiggy has five of the team’s last seven homers and seems to have
some part in every rare Orioles run.

BRING ‘EM IN: Wednesday
night the O’s went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven
runners. The sad thing is, that number is better than nearly every other game.
Baltimore is 17-for-110 (.155) with runners in scoring position, and they had
more hits Sunday with RISP and two outs (three) than they had in the first 12
games combined. If you’re wondering, they went 3-for-7 with RISP and two outs
on Sunday. And that was one of their two wins this season. Coincidence? I think
not.

In 16 games they’ve left 109 runners on base which is an
average of 6.8 runners stranded per game. 
If they could just push one or two of those runs across per game it’d be
a huge lift considering eight of the O’s first 16 games have been decided by
two runs or less.

That brings us to Friday’s series, which starts a stretch of
12 straight games against divisional foes Boston and New York. 

ON THE HOT SEAT: It’s no secret the Orioles need to win some games for manager Dave Trembley to keep his job. Trembley was vocal about the team’s dismal play in a meeting on Wednesday (For more on what I think of the situation check out Orioles.com later today for my latest inbox.)

Orioles.gif

GOOD GUTHRIE: Does
Kevin Millwood’s 3.38 ERA warrant a
win instead of an 0-3 record? Of course. But Friday’s starter, Jeremy Guthrie’s ERA is even better -3.15
- and he’s also searching for his first win. Could it come in Boston? The
Orioles hope so.

To do it, Guthrie (0-2) would have to buck the trend. He’s  1-5 with a 4.74 ERA in 12 career starts
against Boston and has never won at Fenway Park, going 0-2 with a 5.46 ERA.

Hates to face: Jacoby
Ellsbury (11-for-28), Dustin Pedroia (9-for-28), David Ortiz (7-for-23, 2 2Bs,
2 HRs)

Loves to face: Adrian Beltre (1-for-18), Marco Scutaro (4-for-17), Mike
Lowell (4-for-23)

Key stat:  Guthrie’s
turnaround from a dismal ’09 starts with the first inning. In 37 starts last
season, Guthrie posted a 7.99 ERA in the first inning, yielding 57 hits (14 for
extra-bases) and 14 walks. This year he’s allowed just four singles and hasn’t
given up a run in the first inning.

sawx.gif

Oriole killer: Guthrie’s mound counterpart, Jon Lester has been nothing short of spectacular in his career
against the O’s, going 10-0 with a 2.39 ERA in 12 starts.  But the lefty has been struggling this season
and has yet to produce a quality start in his first three tries. Lester has
posted a career 4.88 ERA in April/May with a 1.49 WHIP.

 It would certainly be a great time for the
Orioles’ bats to break out against Lester, who admitted to Boston reporters
that he’s had trouble establishing a rhythm while on the mound.

 

Hates to face: Matt
Wieters (5-for-9), Ty Wigginton (6-for-13)

Loves to face: Luke
Scott (0-for-8), Nick Markakis (7-for-35, 10 Ks)

Key stat: Opponents
are hitting .313 off Lester in his first three starts.

INJURY UPDATES:  If Miguel
Tejada
returns to the lineup on Friday it would certainly be a boost. He’s
a career 4-for-9 off Lester, with two walks.  Miggi’s presence would also move Wigginton
over to second base, a move which upgrades the defense slightly, in my opinion.
It also strengthens the lineup, which is the Orioles biggest problem right now.
Trembley told reporters in Seattle that Miggi was 90 percent on Wednesday and
he expected him back in the lineup for Friday’s series opener.

Adam Jones appeared
to injure his shoulder of some sort, with MASN replays showing him gingerly holding
his right arm and he tentatively relayed the ball in on his next putout. Jones
is a gamer, so it will be interesting to see if he’s OK after taking Thursday’s
off day.  Jones is a career

The Orioles are already without Brian Roberts, Felix Pie, Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara and when you factor in the (hopefully temporary) demotion
of Brad Bergesen the team is missing
nearly 20 percent of their projected Opening Day roster. Only Uehara didn’t
break camp with the team, but the reports out of Sarasota are that he’s close
to returning.

MAGNIFICENT MATUSZ
: Stopper Brian Matusz takes the
hill after Guthrie on Saturday against John
Lackey
, and so far, Matusz sports Baltimore’s only two wins. You have to
like your chances with him on the hill, regardless of what else is going on. He’s
that good.

If the Orioles can steal two out three games to a reeling
Red Sox team (who rebounded from a four-game sweep by visiting Tampa Bay with a
series win* over Texas) it would be huge for the club’s confidence going
forward. Can they do it? We’ll see. It should be an interesting weekend, and as
always, you can follow along here on this blog, on Orioles.com, and on Twitter.

*The Red Sox have a shot at the sweep, but I’m writing this
blog before that game’s being played.

1 Comment

I hope that later today you are going to tell me that Grady Little is on his way back to Boston…..this time to manage the Orioles. Maybe Valentine or Bob Melvin.

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