The Baltimore Orioles will return to action tonight after enjoying two of the last three days off, with one due to rain and the other scheduled. The Birds will start a four game series tonight against the Boston Red Sox that goes through Monday on Marathon Day in Boston. It is never an easy feat to go into Fenway and come away with wins, but what is a realistic goal for the O's in the four game set?
Boston's Jon Lester pitched yesterday so the Orioles will not face the left handed ace in the series, which is always a positive when you do not have to face one of the better lefties in the game.
Tonight, the Orioles will send Chris Tillman (1-1) to the mound to square off against John Lackey (2-1), who beat the Orioles in their Opening Series. In game two of the four game set on Saturday, the O's will have Bud Norris (0-1) on the mound, who is coming off of a fantastic start in his last outing against the Blue Jays when he tossed seven scoreless innings, and he will oppose Felix Doubront (1-2) who has struggled since his start against Baltimore in the Opening Series of the season.
Sunday is when the oddities begin as the Orioles and Red Sox will play on Sunday Night Baseball, which is not an oddity in itself, but what happens the following day is. Baltimore will start the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez (0-3) on the mound against a red hot Jake Peavy (0-0) for Boston. Despite having a 0-0 record, Peavy has pitched well this season and boasts a 1.93 ERA.
The two teams wrap up the series on Monday, which is the day of the Boston Marathon, thus tradition holds as the two teams will play at 11:05 a.m. with Baltimore sending Wei-Yin Chen (2-1) to the mound against Boston's Clay Buchholz (0-1). You read that correctly, the Orioles and Red Sox will play on Sunday Night Baseball and then have to turn around the next day and play at 11 in the morning, quite odd to say the least.
Now that we know the pitching matchups, what is the realistic goal for the O's in this four game set?
Well, obviously every team will tell you they would like to sweep every series they play, but we all know that is never going to happen. In a four game set, the concept of taking three out of four is very attractive, but is hard to do on the road. We believe that the Orioles realistic goal in this series is to split the four games with Boston, especially when you consider that Jimenez is set to pitch in this series, and his struggles have been quite obvious thus far. We are not saying he is not going to turn it around, in fact, we believe the opposite as we wrote earlier this week (click here for article), but you have to face fact that right now, the odds are not in your favor to win that game. In addition, it is very tough to win games against the home team when there is sentimental events attached to it like the Boston Marathon will be on Monday. It will be the first Boston Marathon since those horrible bombings at the event last year, and the city will be in top form in their support on Monday.
A split would mean the Orioles would lead Boston with a 9-9 record, which is certainly not a bad thing when you consider the tough stretch the Orioles had to face to begin the season. Baltimore could certainly take three of four or even sweep if Jimenez has a good start, the other starters continue on their recent support, and some guys begin to swing a hot bat and the offense as a whole puts together an entire series.
For an April series, it is a pretty important four game set as the Orioles could find themselves with some catching up to do in the division if they were to drop three of four or even be swept. It should be a fun and exciting four gamer from Fenway!
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