Things have gotten bad in Birdland. How bad? The club’s new closer is on the DL with a case of severely wounded ego, their leadoff hitter is facing potentially career-shortening back issues, their talented young left fielder is out for three months, their cleanup hitter is hobbled, and their All Star center fielder looks lost at the plate. Lou Montanez and Ty Wigginton are hitting at the top of the lineup and have been two of the team’s only respectable contributors this season
Like it or not, there are still 140-something games to play this season, eighteen of them against the Sox, against whom the Orioles have often played the role of Washington Generals in the past several years.
And so the team begins its first trip to crumbling, err, I mean historic Fenway Park. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s matchups.
Friday, April 23 at 7pm: Guthrie (0-2, 3.15 ERA) vs. Lester (0-2, 8.44 ERA)
While both teams are underperforming thus far, Guthrie has pitched well in his first three starts. Lester, meanwhile, has struggled in April. He will look to rebound at home against the woeful Birds. The O’s have often been the cure for what ails Lester, who is probably totally stoked about facing the Orioles. In 12 career starts against the O’s, Lester is 10-0. Said the lefty tosser, “I am totally stoked about facing the Orioles.”
Bold Prediction: Boston 5, Baltimore 1 run, 5 lazy fly balls, 4 weak grounders, and 2 errors.
Saturday, April 24 at 7pm: Matusz (2-0, 4.34 ERA) vs. Lackey (2-0, 5.63 ERA)
Brian Matusz is on the record for 100% of the Orioles wins this year. The Rookie of the Year candidate has 23 strikeouts in his first three starts. He’ll look to battle the veteran John Lackey, who has logged two solid outings since a limp 3.1 inning regular season debut. Expect both pitchers to fare well in a contest that will likely be soccer-like in scoring, but with a lot less running. Not a particularly strong student of history, Dave Trembley will leave his young ace on the mound one pitch too long. That one pitch will be a three run home run, probably blasted by Dustin Pedroia, who already has five dingers on the year and whose power numbers are clearly a result of a pact with Satan.
Bold Prediction: Boston 4, Orioles 2
Sunday, April 25 at 1:30pm: Hernandez (0-3, 4.67 ERA) vs. Wakefield (0-1, 6.38 ERA)
Tim Wakefield was a sophomore at Florida Tech when David Hernandez was born. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything but thought I’d mention it nonetheless. This is a classic matchup of the power pitcher vs. the knuckleballer. While Wakefield’s experience gives him a certain advantage, Hernandez’s ability to throw over 68 MPH gives him the edge overrall. Look for Hernandez to struggle early before settling in and for the O’s bats to come alive for the first time since last Sunday.
Bold Prediction: Orioles 7, Boston 4
Bonus Prediction: Nick Markakis comes alive, for one single, one double, and his first home run of 2010. In Markakis’ last at bat, Gary Thorne will note that the right fielder is a triple away from hitting for the cycle. Jim Palmer will chuckle lightly before launching into a three minute story about talking to Markakis during BP. Markakis will then walk on a 3-2 pitch low and outside.