The O’s and their eight game losing streak was no match to the six losses in a row that Boston began their season with.  While the Orioles started off 6-1 and the Sox had a brutal 1-6 record at the beginning of April, things are evening out now, as the Birds have lost ten of their last twelve while Boston has captured wins in eight of their last nine matchups.

Catching a lineup and rotation like Boston brings during a hot streak can’t be good news for the Buck Showalter and the O’s.  After losing by twelve to the Yankees on Saturday and then in an extra innings battle on Sunday, the Birds look to get back in the win column by taking advantage of any holes they can find in the Red Sox’ lineup.

Here is a review of the pitching matchups for the series:

Game 1: Tuesday, April 26
7:05 PM EST
LHP Zach Britton (3-1, 3.16) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (1-2, 5.31)

After finding his first struggles as a rookie in Cleveland, Britton looked solid back in Baltimore, allowing three runs in six innings in his last start.  The sinker baller has been changing up his routine each time on the mound, mixing up which pitches he focuses on, so it will be interesting to see what he relies on against Boston’s stacked lineup.

Buchholz, while struggling early on in the season, actually rebounded really well in his last outing against Oakland, throwing 6 innings and only allowing only 1 run (a homer). He’s been letting up a lot more homers this year, serving up 6 while last year he gave up 9 all season.

Game 2: Wednesday, April 27
7:05 PM EST
RHP Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 3.12) vs. RHP Josh Becket (2-1, 1.93)

Guthrie, after a stellar opener in Tampa and then dealing with pneumonia symptoms through his next two starts, finally got back to his healthy self this past Thursday against the Twins, where he held Minnesota to two runs in seven innings (yet still notched the loss).  Run support continues to be the issue in the record for Guthrie multiple years going now, so the key for the O’s to win here is to overcome those struggles and produce for Guts to get a W.

Beckett had a rocky start to his season, but has completely dominated in his last 3 starts. In his last start, against Anaheim, Beckett allowed 2 runs in 8 innings, RAISING his ERA to 1.93. Everything is looking up for Beckett, his velocity, strikeouts, everything is pointing to him being back to normal.

Game 3: Thursday, April 28
7:05 PM EST
RHP Brad Bergesen (0-3, 5.40) vs. LHP Jon Lester (2-1, 2.59)

Bergesen comes into this start with his same early season struggles that he found last year.  Opposed to 2010, Bergy is already incorporating a 4 seam fastball into his mix of pitches, but when he is leaving the sinker up in the zone, it creates too many problems for him to stay consistency.  He does bring a career 3.32 ERA vs. Boston into this game (in 6 previous starts), including two September starts last year in which he allowed only three runs in eleven and a third innings pitched.

Lester, who’s been known to struggle in April, had a rocky first start against Texas where he allowed 5 runs on 3 homers. However, in his last 4 starts, he’s struck out at least 5 every time out.

   

This game will come down to which inconsistent offense can perform at the level that they are expected to.  The Red Sox offense is highly looked at in terms of their two new superstars, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez:
Obviously Crawford has started off slow, but Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t been himself at the plate. He has just one home run for the Red Sox right now, and is hitting .282. I’d expect to see him break out rather soon.
The key for Boston will be their pitching, though.  Over their last nine games, eight of which they have won, Red Sox starters have combined for a spectacular 0.88 ERA.  With the O’s having a core of young pitchers that can be shaky early on, it seems that the team who can jump out to an early lead in each game will be the one to claim victory in the end.

***All information about the Boston Red Sox in block quotes was provided by Matt G; follow him on Twitter @mgshowtime.