As the Sox head back to Boston for a ten-game home stand, they will do battle in a three-game set against the Orioles. With the teams tied at the top of the AL East, the Sox will hope to build a lead atop the division with a strong series. When the teams met from May 30 to June 2, they split four games; Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez won, while Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello (both of whom won’t be pitching in this series) lost.
LHP David Price (7-3, 4.63 ERA, 83.2 IP, 91 K/24 BB) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (8-1, 3.01 ERA, 77.2 IP, 75 K/29 BB)
Tuesday night is a matchup of two aces, even if Price’s numbers don’t indicate it. While the Sox have been able to rely on Price to pitch plenty of innings (15 in his previous two starts), he hasn’t consistently shut down opposing lineups.
Taking on the formidable Tillman, who hasn’t lost since April 14, will be a serious challenge for Price. Collectively, the Sox lineup has a .234 career average against the 6′ 5” Tillman, who has bounced back from a difficult 2015 season and re-established himself as a bona fide ace.
RHP Steven Wright (7-4, 2.09 ERA, 82.0 IP, 70K/33 BB) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.73 ERA, 59.0 IP, 30 K/15 BB)
Steven Wright leads the American League in ERA! Yes, the 31-year-old knuckleballer with 14 major league wins has a better ERA than Rich Hill, Felix Hernandez, and Chris Sale. He hurled a complete game versus the O’s on May 30, allowing just two earned runs in a 7-2 Sox romp.
Wilson is a rookie, though he did start in five games for the O’s last season. He’s trending the opposite of Tillman, having not won a game since May 11, losing his last four decisions.
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 6.06 ERA, 16.1 IP, 7 K/7 BB) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (0-3, 3.45 ERA, 60.0 IP, 54 K/15 BB)
Rodriguez’s first three starts since returning from his knee injury have not gone ideally. While Rodriguez was solid in his first start, he’s pitched just ten innings in his last two, conceding nine earned runs, seven walks, and an alarming five homers. He has only 19 ground ball outs compared to 37 from fly balls, a ratio that will need to dramatically improve if Rodriguez wants to replicate his success from last year.
Gausman is a dependable strike-thrower who usually gives the Orioles a chance to win, even if they haven’t given him much run support thus far.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
- Xander Bogaerts is 10 for his last 15 with two homers and seven RBIs. His .359 batting average and 3.53 WAR are best in the AL. The kid is playing at an MVP level right now.
- Hanley Ramirez is 5-37 in June, dropping his average to .269. Given the dominance of Bogaerts and David Ortiz, that’s a glaring weakness in the middle order.
I see the Sox edging out the O’s and taking two of three thanks to the power of Ortiz, the consistent excellence of Bogaerts, the mystifying Wright, and a return to form by Rodriguez.