Fresh off a sweep of Los Angeles, the Boston Red Sox are headed to Camden for a three game set against the Orioles to finish off their road trip, starting Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET
Just one game under .500, to reach that once distant goal the Sox need only to win this series against an Orioles team that has found itself in a sudden free fall. Whether Buck Showalter finally exhausted his magic, or it's just a hot team coming to Earth, the Orioles are just a few games removed from an eight game losing streak, and have started a new one with three straight losses against the Twins and Yankees, including a 15-3 beatdown from New York.
Luckily for Boston fans, the Red Sox should have the right men on the mound to get the job done.
Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Tuesday, April 26, 7:05 p.m.
Clay Buchholz (1-2, 5.31 ERA) vs. Zach Britton (3-1, 3.16 ERA)
Despite picking up his first win last week, it's been tough going for Clay Buchholz, who has yet to strike out more batters than he's walked in a game. The same cannot be said of Zach Britton, though his figures don't exactly reflect his ERA or his top prospect status.
Of course, Clay and the Orioles have a reasonably long history, with Clay coming out very much on top in the long run. The difference is that these aren't the same Orioles he's faced in recent years. With left-handed Britton being such a question mark against the Red Sox' lineup and Clay needing to deal with the masses of new Orioles acquisitions, this game is the biggest enigma of the series.
Wednesday, April 27, 7:05 p.m.
Josh Beckett (2-1, 1.93 ERA) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 3.12 ERA)
Jeremy Guthrie is once again masquerading as an ace for the Orioles this year-something he's been doing for a few years now. This is an act that hasn't really worked against the Boston Red Sox in his career, as they've hit him to the tune of a .293/.362/.509 batting line-good for all of one win and seven losses. And so long as the Red Sox are playing David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, and Jacoby Ellsbury-all of whom have been quite effective against him in the past-don't expect this to change anytime soon.
Josh Beckett, on the other hand, has finally stopped playing the part and started pitching it instead. And, after three games, it's starting to get downright convincing. Against the Orioles, though, things could be different. Despite having a high strikeout rate against the team, there are a number of players in Baltimore who can hit Beckett reasonably well, including Luke Scott, Vladimir Guerrero, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis. If Josh can keep the hot streak going, then this might be the game where we stop calling it a streak and start calling it a comeback season.
Thursday, April 28, 7:05 p.m.
Jon Lester (2-1, 2.59 ERA) vs. Brad Bergesen (0-3, 5.40 ERA)
By far the least ambiguous game of the series features the man we know to be an ace-Jon Lester-taking on a man we know is most certainly not one-Brad Bergesen. Even the matchups work out nicely, as Lester has traditionally shut down many of the Orioles he is likely to see on Thursday, while Bergesen can have some serious troubles against the Red Sox. This one is definitely Boston's game to lose.