O’s look to take series from Red Sox behind arm of Feldman

July 27, 2013 | Max Buchdahl

Last night, the Orioles hit and pitched their way to a dominating 6-0 win over the Red Sox. With a win tonight, they can seal their second series win of the year against Boston, and inch themselves closer to the top of the AL East. Ryan Dempster, who was the slated starter for last night’s game before Boston’s rain-out Thursday, will throw tonight. For the Orioles, Scott Feldman will be making his third start for the team at Oriole Park.

Dempster, in this his first year with the Red Sox, hasn’t been the pitcher the team bargained for when they signed him last winter. He’s gone 5-8 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Tonight will be his third start this year against the Orioles. He earned a no-decision in the first, at Fenway Park, and then lost the second, in Baltimore, after surrendering two runs on five hits and walking five.

J.J. Hardy knows Dempster well from their days together in the NL Central, but has just two hits against him in thirty career at-bats. Nate McLouth and Chris Davis each have a home run off of him, while Adam Jones is a .444 career hitter with two runs driven in against the Red Sox righty.

Of his twenty starts on the season, Ryan Dempster has started on the road just six times leading up to tonight. He has gone 1-2 with a 4.64 ERA, and opponents hit forty points higher against him on the road than at home.

The best time to score runs with Dempster on the mound is early on in the game. Opponents have hit .288 against him in the first two innings of the game with a combined nine home runs, the same amount as he’s given up through the first twenty-five pitches of the game. Also, hitters have a higher average in their first at-bat of the game against Dempster than any other at-bat over the course of a game. When the Orioles beat Dempster last month, they scored their two runs in the first three innings of the game. Beating him again could come down to how quickly they can get after him.

On the Orioles side, Scott Feldman will be looking to win his third consecutive start, a streak which has seen him give the Orioles two large wins against the Blue Jays and Royals, respectively.

Feldman knows the Red Sox from his days in Texas. He has appeared against them eight times, but started against them just twice. In those eight combined appearances, he is 1-0 with a 3.91 ERA, but the numbers against individual Red Sox hitters aren’t nearly as promising.

Mike Napoli, who Feldman faced when he was with the  Rangers and Napoli the Angels, is a .478 hitter against Feldman with two home runs and six RBI’s. David Ortiz has also homered twice off of Feldman, and has picked up seven RBI’s in the process. In addition, Dustin Pedroia has five hits in nine at-bats against Feldman. Not exactly the kind of history you’d like to see if you’re an Orioles fan.

But there’s a reason they play the games. Scott Feldman is looking to cement himself as a quality fourth starter in the Orioles rotation, and there isn’t a better opportunity to do so than helping to beat a divisional rival. He will surely be motivated to prove himself by doing just that in tonight’s game.