Another good season against the Boston Red Sox could catapult the Baltimore Orioles to the top of the AL East.
There used to be a time when looking at the Baltimore Orioles schedule for the upcoming season would cause fans to dread facing teams within the division automatically. It was so bad that fans didn’t buy tickets to those games, and allowed Camden Yards to become a second home to teams like the Boston Red Sox.
The Baltimore Orioles were 31-59 head-to-head against the Red Sox over a five-year span (2007-2011). The Red Sox outscored them 556-393, shut them out eight times, and at one point, beat them ten games in a row (July 31, 2009-April 24, 2010).
Things were bad for the Orioles.
Enter, Buck Showalter
When the Orioles new skipper arrived, things began to change. It wasn’t an overnight change, rather, a gradual process. The Orioles ended the 2011 season with wins against the Red Sox in four-out-of-five games. And, oh yeah, there was this.
Since that night, the Orioles have managed to go 54-40 against Boston, which is the most wins against any team that they have faced in a five-year span. They’ve outscored the Red Sox 413-402, and have won the season series four-out-of-five years.
Things have certainly changed for the Orioles.
Sustained success against Boston is crucial this year
The Orioles begin their season series tomorrow night in Boston, as Dylan Bundy takes the mound. Opposing him will be left-hander Drew Pomeranz. In four appearances (one start) vs. the O’s, Pomeranz is 0-2, with an 8.10 ERA. He’ll be making his first start of the year, after being activated from the 10-day disabled list.
A hot start vs. the Red Sox this season could be pivotal in distancing themselves in the AL East. The Orioles are coming off a 4-1 homestand to begin the season, and all five games were against teams within the division.
The Orioles will miss out on Boston’s better part of the rotation in this short two-game series, however, when the Red Sox come to Baltimore later this month, they could see at least either Chris Sale or Rick Porcello.
Facing the Giants
In 2016, Sale, and Porcello were 39-14 with a combined ERA of 3.25. Porcello captured the American League Cy-Young award, and Sale made his fifth All-Star game appearance in a row. Once in different divisions, now on the same Boston Red Sox team in 2017.
The Orioles shouldn’t fret facing either one of them.
Porcello holds a career ERA of 4.88 in 15 starts against the O’s. He’s 4-8 lifetime, and the Orioles hold a .285 career batting average against him.
Sale’s numbers are slightly better than Porcello’s. In 11 appearances (five starts), Sale holds a 2-2 record against the Orioles, with a 3.41 ERA. However, it’s the Orioles offensive numbers that stand out against the five-time All-Star.
The Orioles have hit Sale well over the years, holding a lifetime batting average of .296, which is the highest batting average of teams he has faced ten or more times. That is the same with their career .375 on-base percentage, and .467 slugging percentage as well.
The Baltimore Orioles biggest in-division challenge this season may come from the Boston Red Sox, mainly because of their productive offensive lineup, and their left-handed heavy pitching rotation. If they can find a way to win ballgames against this Goliath, they may find themselves at the top of the American League East for the second time in four seasons.