The Orioles have become a major thorn in the side of the Red Sox. Last year, the Red Sox went 5-13 against the eventual Wild Card winner, but they weren’t getting killed — the Orioles just seemed to find ways to manufacture wins. 10 of Baltimore’s 13 victories last season were by three runs or less. Four of their 18 games went to extra innings, and the Orioles won all of them.
This year was a fresh slate for the Red Sox. Although the team is completely transformed from the disaster they were last year, it’s been business as usual with the Orioles. In their only series at Fenway earlier this season, the Orioles took two out of three. Both wins were by three runs or less, and both were late-inning comeback victories that were saved by Jim Johnson.
The most annoying part about losing to the Orioles is that they’re not even that good. They win close games largely because their bullpen was so good in 2012. Johnson closed out 51 games, and blew only three — an insane percentage. This year, Johnson has come back down to earth with four blown saves since May. Most recently, he was tagged for a loss against the New York Yankees.
This is such an important series for the Red Sox because they get to send a message to Baltimore that times have changed. During the four-game set the Boston lineup, gets to feast on the pitching of Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, Freddy Garcia, and Miguel Gonzalez. These aren’t exactly Hall of Famers.
It’s time for the Red Sox to show the Orioles that this is not 2012. They must take at least three out of four, and would really be sending a statement with a four game sweep. It’s time to show them that in 2013, the AL East goes through Boston.