Apr 8, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) and Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) shake hands before the start of opening day at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles 3-1. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles, Red Sox Hope for Offensive Resurrections


 

 

The Baltimore Orioles will today begin a four-game series in Boston against the Red Sox, as both teams look to see their offenses have a resurrection on Easter weekend.

The Orioles have only had one really strong offensive game in the past five, even though they have won three of those contests while scoring merely 15 runs. Encouragement has come from the revival of several starters in the rotation.

The Red Sox have had a somewhat similar experience in wondering where their offence is being hidden. They enter the series with a 7-9 record, which could well have been 5-11 if the Chicago bullpen had not blown the last two Sox vs. Sox low-scoring games.

The Sox have had more injuries than usual at the front of the season, with Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks both still on the 15-day DL.  Koji Uehara returned successfully last night from some shoulder soreness. Mike Napoli dislocated a finger Tuesday evening but was in the lineup last night. And Dustin Pedroia is now playing after some time of struggle with an inflamed wrist.

In tonight’s series opener the Baltimore Orioles will send ace Chris Tillman to the mound. Tillman has established himself through his first three outings on the season as indeed among the elite pitchers in the American League. He has a 0.84 ERA in 21.1 innings, having given up only 15 hits. Included in his three starts was the excellent opening day game assignment against the Red Sox and Jon Lester.

Tillman is 4-2 over 12 career starts against the Sox with an excellent ERA of 2.67. He has particularly kept David Ortiz under control, as Big Papi is only 2-for-19 against Tillman. Pedroia is 9-for-30 and Napoli is 5-for-15.

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

Dustin Pedroia

30

9

2

0

0

4

2

2

.300

Daniel Nava

20

4

2

0

0

0

4

7

.200

David Ortiz

19

2

0

0

0

0

4

5

.105

Mike Napoli

15

5

2

0

0

1

3

7

.333

Mike Carp

14

2

0

0

0

1

1

2

.143

A.J. Pierzynski

12

2

1

0

0

1

0

0

.167

Shane Victorino

11

4

0

0

1

1

1

1

.364

Ryan Roberts

5

1

0

0

1

1

2

2

.200

Xander Bogaerts

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

.000

Jackie Bradley

5

2

1

0

0

0

0

2

.400

Grady Sizemore

5

2

0

0

1

1

0

0

.400

Jonny Gomes

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

.000

 

John Lackey will open the series for the Red Sox. In the second game of the season he registered a win against the Orioles – in six innings giving up two runs on a Nelson Cruz homer. After that he had an even better game against the Rangers, though his most recent outing versus the Yankees saw him yield six runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings.

Over his career against the Baltimore Orioles, he is 14-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 164.2 innings of pitching. Those numbers probably explain my distaste at the sight of him on a pitching mound! His total career record right now is 140-108 with a 4.05 ERA – and you’ve got to respect that.

Several Orioles hitters have decent numbers against Lackey. Nick Markakis is .333, so he will surely be batting leadoff. Chris Davis is 11-for 32 with three doubles and two homers, and Delmon Young is 6-for-19. Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy have struggled against the big righty, and Adam Jones is only 10-for-45, though this includes three homers.

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

Nick Markakis

57

19

4

1

0

4

5

12

.333

Adam Jones

45

10

0

1

3

6

1

13

.222

Chris Davis

32

11

3

0

2

6

3

8

.344

Nelson Cruz

31

8

1

0

1

5

1

11

.258

Matt Wieters

32

6

0

0

0

2

0

6

.188

J.J. Hardy

20

3

0

0

0

0

3

5

.150

Delmon Young

19

6

1

0

0

2

1

5

.316

David Lough

6

1

0

0

0

1

1

0

.167

Ryan Flaherty

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

.000

Steve Lombardozzi

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

.000

 

Our FanSided Sports Network of which this blog is one of several hundred sports sites also includes a page dedicated to the Boston Red Sox entitled BoSox Injection. My colleague from that site – Pete Sonski – sent me a list of really good questions to answer, and I’ll include that conversation in the remainder of the article here. I encourage our readers to check out BoSox Injection and the other baseball (and football) sites when the Baltimore Orioles (or the Ravens) play a particular opponent. It will give you an easy, quick, and informative perspective from “the other side.”

Here are the questions with my responses in italics …

There’s little separation top to bottom in the American League East. On the positive side that means no team has taken command of the division and the title chase may be a tight race throughout the season. On the negative side it means some teams have struggled out of the gate. With the Orioles, do you consider inconsistency in the rotation as a major reason for their slower than anticipated start?

I would not be surprised to see the AL East be a tight race throughout the whole season. Each team has strengths and weaknesses. And yes, the starting rotation is every Baltimore Orioles fan’s biggest concern about the team and its viability as a contender. Other than Chris Tillman, it has been a wild adventure so far – though Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen each had strong efforts in their most recent starts. But honestly, the lack of consistent hitting has hurt the Orioles as much as their rotation, scoring only three runs in 30 innings against the Jays over the weekend for example.

While Nelson Cruz, Matt Wieters and, to the extent he’s played, Delmon Young have been performing well at the plate, some key contributors in the Orioles’ lineup have been cold: Chris Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis. Is there an explanation for the lack of power from these players so far?

I suppose if there was an easy explanation for the lack of power from the four players that you mention, that they would know it and deploy a solution. But it is not a total loss. Chris Davis cannot be expected to hit 53 HRs and 138 RBIs every year. Even with only one homer, he is still on pace to knock in 100 runs. We could cite the weather – though, yes, others could as well – and some pretty good pitching thrown against them. Hardy has missed a number of games with back spasms. These things have a way of evening out.

Manny Machado is on the DL as he continues his rehab from knee surgery late last year. There were conflicting reports during spring training that he would be ready for opening day. What’s his status and when can we expect his bat in the lineup?

I think it was always a greater long-shot for Machado to be ready for April than was ever admitted. Hope is a wonderful thing. It was a nasty knee injury and nobody wants to see him rushed back. Reports are that he is making progress – running sprints just this week for the first time. The Orioles beat writers push all the time for a definitive projection, but nothing is ever forthcoming on that. Showalter is very circumspect about such matters. I would guess it is probably about a month away … and though I’m a “doctor” let me say that it is a PhD and not a MD!

For Red Sox fans, besides Nelson Cruz, there are some unfamiliar names on the Baltimore lineup card these days: Jonathan Schoop and David Lough. Who are these guys and how have they fit in so far?

Jonathon Schoop is hopefully the second coming of Manny Machado! How’s that for bravado? Seriously, he is a top prospect and the youngest rookie starter for the Orioles since a fellow named Cal Ripken (Machado was younger but did not technically have rookie status in 2013.) He has some great skills and has had some critical hits early in the season. He also single-handedly, literally threw away a game the other day with two throwing errors in the same inning. Schoop (pronounced like “scope”) is playing some third base, though he is projected to soon be the regular second baseman for years to come.

David Lough came from the Royals in a trade for DH Danny Valencia. He has great speed and is a plus defender. He has had a bit of a rough start and has battled some concussion-like symptoms from a spring training incident. Lough has great upside potential and is admired as a hustler.

Tommy Hunter wasn’t “officially” named the Orioles’ closer until the team broke camp. He has only a handful of saves so far. How has he done in the role and how is this year’s bullpen in general?

Disclaimer upfront: I don’t believe in designated closers unless you have a rare someone like Koji – I’ve been a HUGE Koji fan and eschew the day the Orioles did not secure him as a free agent (though we are all thankful that he was the player traded by the O’s for both Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis!). But since for better or worse (mostly worse!) the modern game “needs” a designated closer, Hunter is the guy for now. He has done reasonably well, though Colby Rasmus took him over the fence with two outs and two strikes in the 9th the other night to tie the game. I am not hopeful for the long-term success of this experiment, though I admit that Hunter has the personality for closer success.

The bullpen looks quite good, and I could imagine it being the strength of this team as it was in 2012. Zach Britton looks almost unhittable right now.

Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are names that Boston fans hear often as future major leaguers. How are these prospects developing and will we see them on the roster before September call-ups? Also, what about Johan Santana?

Around these parts it is generally presumed that Gausman will be with the Baltimore Orioles sooner rather than later – probably replacing some failure in the rotation. Bundy is on schedule in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and will likely be pitching at AA Bowie in a few weeks. He is more likely to be seen in September. Johan Santana is a wildcard for sure. I guess it could happen, but I’ll believe it when I see it. His velocity needs to come up A LOT! Can he really do it? IDK, but will LOL if he does, and he’ll be my baseball BFF. 

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Chris Tillman John Lackey