Baltimore Orioles to battle Red Sox at Fenway Park with much to prove

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 23: Manny Machado
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 23: Manny Machado /

The Baltimore Orioles standings have them three games back from the final American League Wild Card spot as they take on the Boston Red Sox during MLB Players Weekend.

The Baltimore Orioles are a team that is a few games under .500 thanks to the inconsistent pitching and offense. Neither of those items should come as a surprise to Orioles fans.

Throughout the season, that trend has largely been the case.

The first 30 plus games were different. The offense was patient, and although not scoring at the high rate they are now, was doing enough.

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But, the pitching was much, much better than anyone could have expected. Wade Miley looked like a competent pitcher. Dylan Bundy looked spectacular. The team was even overcoming Kevin Gausman‘s struggles and Chris Tillman on the disabled list.

That didn’t last past the beginning of May.

Ever since then, it’s been a slide to mediocrity. Even when the team would win a series, it wouldn’t necessarily be in impressive fashion.

Now, the Orioles will prepare to finish August. They play three games against one of the best teams in baseball, the Boston Red Sox.

While the Red Sox are a formidable foe, the Orioles will not face ace Chris Sale. Instead, t hey will face Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and Doug Fister. Three good pitchers, but they aren’t Sale.

Porcello has 14 losses this year. All four have ERAs over four. Of course, the Orioles are likely trotting out three pitchers with ERAs over 5.

Porcello is 4-10 with a 4.75 ERA in 17 starts versus the Orioles, allowing 17 home runs to the Birdland Bombers.

Jeremy Hellickson, Friday’s starter for Baltimore, will make his first start at Fenway Park in several years. His ERA against Boston is also over 5.

Since base-brawls are currently the talk of the game, let’s not forget that these two teams had their war of words earlier in the season.

Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia at second base, taking him out. Red Sox fans and particularly media called it dirty. Pedroia disagreed. No matter the intent, Pedroia hasn’t been the same player since in 2017.

Manny was then thrown at, several times.

Machado excelled in that series and has all season against the Red Sox.

Now, he’s is one of the hottest players in the game. Could a big home run at Fenway Park rile up some pent-up anger in Red Sox Nation?

The Red Sox are a team that is missing several players due to injury. Pedroia is on the disabled list with left knee inflammation. Jackie Bradley Jr. just went on the disabled list with a sprained thumb. Mookie Betts is a little banged up.

The Orioles haven’t faced Rafael Devers, who was called up around the trade deadline. They also haven’t faced Rajai Davis or Eduardo Nunez in a Red Sox jersey. In fact, the Orioles just faced Davis for the Athletics on Wednesday, and now they will meet him Friday for the Red Sox.

The Baltimore Orioles may not be able to catch the Red Sox, who lead the AL East by 11 games.

They may be able to catch the New York Yankees, who are currently 6.5 games up on the Orioles but are primed to likely use several key players for at least a game after yesterday’s donnybrook in Detroit, including Gary Sanchez, who is hitting the cover off the ball again.

The Orioles continue to take a step forward and then steps back. Now is the time to start consistently winning series against teams they are either competing against or are superior to the Orioles.

Next: An ode to Zach Britton, reliever extraordinaire

A trip to Boston for the Orioles lately has often ended in a series victory.

A series win here, before heading back home to face three teams the Orioles are competing with would go a long way in showing the Orioles still are a team to be reckoned with in the American League.