Riding a four game winning streak, the Boston Red Sox will head to Camden Yards for a huge three game series against the Baltimore Orioles (7pm ET Tuesday).
Currently, the two teams hold the top spots in the AL wildcard and are separated by just one game in the AL East. It looks to be a three team race to the finish and series like these hold just a little extra meaning and importance because of just how tightly bunched the top teams are.
The Orioles will be looking for their second consecutive series win in a row as they most recently took down one of the top teams in the NL, the San Francisco Giants. Baltimore took game one and came back from a six run deficit to defeat the Giants 8-7 in the series’ final game. This was a big win for the Orioles, who have gone just 5-5 in their last 10.
The Red Sox meanwhile have done only slightly better at 6-4, but it has helped them gain ground on Baltimore and keep pace with the Toronto Blue Jays. The latter currently lead the AL East by 0.5 games over the Orioles and 1.5 games over the Red Sox. Boston had been just 2-4 before winning their last four, including most recently in a rain delayed make-up game against the Cleveland Indians.
Despite only being two games, expect this to be a very competitive series as both teams are fighting for the playoffs and possibly even the chance to win the AL East division.
Let’s take a look at the pitching and offensive match-ups and then conclude this preview with out betting picks.
Game One: (BOS) Eduardo Rodriguez vs (BAL) Yovani Gallardo
Taking the mound for the Red Sox in the first of the two game series is the left handed Eduardo Rodriguez (pictured). In just his second year in the league, Rodriguez has been pitching about average with a 5.43 ERA and 2-5 record. However, since coming back from a midseason demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket, Rodriguez has been at his best, pitching 17.2 innings and allowing opponents just a 2.55 ERA. In his most recent start, he tossed seven innings of just three hit ball against the New York Yankees, only to get the no decision as a result of a struggling bullpen.
Opposing him on the mound is the veteran right handed hurler, Yovani Gallardo, who hasn’t made a start at home since right after the July All-Star break. He is 1-3 over his last eight starts, two of those losses which have come in his last three. Over the course of his career, he is just 2-2 with a 5.26 ERA against the Red Sox. That’s just about where his season ERA is at a mark of 5.17 and a WHIP of 1.60.
Overall, this isn’t exactly a barn burning pitching match-up. Rather, it seems this could come down to a bullpen game. And if that’s the case, Baltimore probably has the edge because lately, Boston’s pen has been inconsistent especially on the road. They will need some help in that department if they hope to hold off a strong Baltimore offense which ranks 10th in the league.
However, Boston’s offense is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it’s the best offense in baseball. So if anyone is in a prime position to put up big numbers against Gallardo, it’s the team that has had his number.
Game Two: (BOS) David Price vs (BAL) Chris Tillman
This is more of a pitching duel or at least it would be if Price was having the kind of season he had for much of his career. What should be a match-up of aces is really looking like a one-sided affair in favor of Chris Tillman.
Taking the mound for the Red Sox is Price, undoubtedly one of the best lefties in baseball over the past few years. Price has been a 15 game winner four times in his career including winning 18 last year in split seasons between the Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers. However, this year, Price has struggled in his first season with the Red Sox with a 10-8 record and 4.29 ERA, a mark that is higher than it has been ever since the 2009 season, his second in the league. Having spent most of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, Price is no stranger to facing the Baltimore hitters. He has had mixed success in these games, allowing every hitter with a minimum of 20 at bats against him except Chris Davis, to hit over .300.
He’ll be taking on Tillman, who is having one of the best years of his career and who has a reputation as a Red Sox killer. On the year, Tillman has a great 15-4 record which puts him among the best pitchers in the AL. He is coming off a two game losing streak but overall, has pitched well all season long. Against the Red Sox in his career, the veteran righty who has spent his entire time with the Orioles, is a very impressive 10-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 19 starts against the divisional rival.
Our Preview’s Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles Betting Picks
It’s likely this series will result in a split, with neither team managing to gain too much ground on the other. Baltimore does have home field advantage and a better bullpen even with the recent injuries, but it could all come down to the pitching matchups and the familiarity of the men on the mound and the teams they are facing. This especially goes for the second game of the series.
Overall, I think Boston carries their momentum from their four game winning streak into this one and manages to take the first game. But I do think Tillman’s success both this year and against Boston will help the Orioles level the series at a game apiece. So take Baltimore to get the win in game two.