While many would consider baseball to be the hardest sport to play, it is also the longest in terms of a season. The stamina it takes to play 162 games in a span of six months, not to mention playoff games in October for those fortunate enough, is quite extraordinary. This 2009 Major League Baseball season is still young and many teams are proving to be quite the surprises, but whether or not they stay in contention is something that only time will tell. A prime example is the fact that the Orioles, winners of all three series played this season, are currently in second place in the AL East with a record of 6-3 while the Boston Red Sox are currently struggling as the least successful team in the division at 3-6. With that in mind, it will indeed be an interesting match-up as the O’s and Red Sox meet for the first time this weekend in a four game series.
The 2008 season proved to be an unsuccessful one for the Orioles against the 2007 World Series champions as they won only one third of the meetings between the two (6-12). While they managed a record of 4-5 against the Red Sox at Camden Yards, they struggled at the home of the Green Monster with a record of 2-7. The Birds averaged 3.8 runs per game in Beantown while giving up an average of 7.1 runs per game, evidence of their troubles against this team.
The Orioles will look to halt their ongoing problems with the bullpen and put their hopes of an opening game victory on the shoulders of Jeremy Guthrie, who is 0-1 with an ERA of 3.93 in three starts at Boston and was 1-2 with an ERA of 4.13 last year in four starts against them. Guthrie will look to continue his early season success after winning both games pitched this season while sustaining an ERA of 2.25. His pitching counterpart, Brad Penny, is 1-0 with an ERA of 4.50. Penny earned a victory in his first outing on April 11th against the Angels, giving up three runs on five hits, two of which were homers, while walking two and striking out two. Tonight’s meeting will be the first for Penny against Baltimore’s beloved birds.
The match-ups continue to mount for the remaining three games as Adam Eaton (0-1, 9.00 ERA) faces Josh Beckett (1-1, 3.46 ERA) Saturday night, Koji Uehara (2-0, 7.20 ERA) takes on Jon Lester (0-2, 9.00 ERA) Sunday afternoon, and Mark Hendrickson (1-1, 3.00 ERA) goes up against Justin Masterson (0-0, 4.50 ERA), pitching in place of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka, Monday morning as the first series finale concludes on Patriots Day. The game will begin at 11:05 AM, just hours before the 113th running of the Boston Athletic Association’s Boston Marathon, which has become a yearly tradition for the Red Sox and their fans.
In their previous outing Wednesday night at Texas, Baltimore’s pitchers struggled as starter Mark Hendrickson gave up nine runs, only two of which were earned, in 3 2/3 innings pitched, while the bullpen surrendered ten runs on twelve hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched. The Rangers victory was highlighted by Ian Kinsler’s success in hitting for the cycle while going six-for-six, scoring five runs and plating four. The bullpen has been the most worked this season (39 2/3 innings pitched) and they will surely be looking for retribution at Fenway this weekend. Will the starters be able to last for more than six innings, thus taking pressure off the Orioles’ tired relief pitchers, or will the troubles continue, proving that the Birds need some much needed help from their minor league prospects? We will have to surely tune in to see for ourselves. Let’s just hope that Dave Trembley doesn’t spend his weekend running a marathon while changing pitchers.