The Baltimore Orioles are in Boston to take on the Boston Red Sox tonight, the first game of a three game set, and are looking to match a season high with their fifth straight win overall and beat the Red Sox for the ninth time in 13 matchups this year. Baltimore has won seven of eight at Fenway Park dating back to last season.
Even though the Orioles are coming from a day off, especially after back-to-back extra-inning games, the Red Sox very likely remember the role Baltimore played in their collapse last season and almost certainly will be looking to repay the favor.
Jon Lester is taking the mound for the Red Sox and even though the Orioles have already faced, and beaten, Lester twice this season – they have yet to pin an actual loss to his record over 20 career meetings and he has a 14-0 lifetime record against the Orioles with a 2.49 ERA.
Manager Buck Showalter made the decision to send Miguel Gonzalez, a former Red Sox farmhand, to oppose Lester today because he didn’t have to use him in relief in that last extra-inning victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
Gonzalez has certainly been one of the brighter spots in the Orioles starting rotation this season, especially considering he’s a rookie, posting a 3.57/4.65 ERA/FIP with 31 walks and 66 strikeouts over 85.2 innings of work.
Other than the fact that the Red Sox have traded away half their opening day roster and have been one of the most dysfunctional teams all season long, there are a few other reasons to be hopeful the Orioles can win this game.
Gonzalez has only faced the Red Sox twice but has a 1-0 record with a 2.70 ERA over 10 innings against them this year. One of those outing was a start in which he pitched six innings giving up six hits with two earned runs in an Orioles victory by the score of 5-2. I would venture a guess that that’s what we could expect to see out of him tonight as well as he averages about six innings a start with six or seven hits and two or three earned runs. If he can do that then the Orioles will be in a strong position to win this first game of the series.
Other bonuses for the Orioles are that there are a few players, who I imagine we will see in the lineup tonight, that have put up some really good numbers against Lester.
J.J. Hardy is 5-for-11 against Lester, good for a .455 batting average with a homerun.
Robert “The Curse of” Andino is batting .375 over 16 at-bats and Matt Wieters is batting .355 against him over 31 at-bats.
Maybe tonight is the night the Orioles put that first loss on Lester’s official record so he can no longer be considered undefeated against the team.