Before I get to the nuts and bolts of this monster four-game series at the Yards starting tonight, I wanted to ask you, the reader, a question. Which team do you dislike the most in sports?
But for me its the Baltimore Orioles opponent the next four nights, the Boston Red Sox. And it’s not even close.
From their annoying fan base who try and make it all about them to the players on the field, I just don’t get down with the Red Sox Nation. One of my best recent baseball memories since becoming the president of the “Orangekoolaid Club” was when Robert Andino laced that single to left field on the last day of the 2011 season to knock the Sox out of the playoffs.
And although it didn’t get the O’s in the playoffs, I was still doing air kicks and throwing high five’s to my couch like they just won the World Series.
As if the venom for this franchise wasn’t already at a all time high, last year’s Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine did his best Pedro Strop impression by throwing gas on an already lit fire with his; “the Orioles have been lucky” comment.
Maybe they were “lucky” Bobby, but their lucky streak landed them in the 2012 playoffs and sent you back to Japan. Add in that most of the Red Sox hats I see on their “fans” look like it was bought 15 minutes ago and is usually accompanied by a vintage Jason Varitek give away shirt and you can see why I might enjoy beating those Ben Afleck’s wannabe’s real good.
On the series itself, it shapes up quite nicely for the Birds (IMO). Starting tonight where rookie Kevin Gausman has one of his best shots at winning his first MLB game facing the chunky Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.84 ERA).
Friday night’s matchup on the bump is my boy Chris Tillman against Ryan Dempster (4-6, 4.40 ERA), who the Orioles should have made a run out in the off-season. Saturday afternoon’s match up where the temps are supposed to be perfect for hitters at the Yards pits Sweaty Freddy Garcia and John Lackey. If you like free money, bet the 401K and kids college fund on the over as it could be replicate a score at Coors Field in August.
Fathers’ Day could bring the best pitching match up of the series as the Orioles ace Miguel Gonzalez is scheduled to be opposed by the Sox best pitcher and potential AL All Star starter in Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA). I say scheduled because he has neck tightness and was pushed back to Sunday. If he can’t go, I expect the Sox to go with the Oriole killer Jon Lester on four-days rest. Either way, I think for the first time in a while the Orioles might have an advantage in the pitching rotation this coming series.
Hitting wise, both teams are currently batting .273 as a team (2nd in the AL to the Tigers) while they have mashed 75 HR’s. Boston leads the AL in runs scored (351) as well as in RBI’s (345). And in a stat that both teams didn’t exactly excel at last season, the Sox have a league leading 53 SB’s while the O’s have 49. Main reason for this is center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury being healthy which has him leading the league with 29 stolen bags ( Nate McLouth is second with 22).
Another couple Sox to watch in this series are 2nd baseman Dustin Pedoria and DH David Ortiz. Pedoria is the one Red Sox player I have a tough time rooting against (but I still do). He plays the game the right way and though his frame isn’t exactly Chris Davis, his heart and smarts on the field are second to none.
Ortiz, on the other hand, has turned the clock back a few years with his “herculean” comeback from injury this year. Give me a break. This guy is the poster child for a PED user and I for one am not afraid to say it. Sue me, Big Papi.
This series is as important as one in late August. Not only because it’s the Red Sox, but because its the team we are currently chasing in a head to head match up on our own turf. I’m not going to tell you how to run your ship because I trust you more than my wife. But please, under no circumstance, are you to pick up that bullpen phone this weekend and say “Get Petey (Strop) up”. I’m begging you.