This might be even tougher than deciding whether winning or losing was the best course against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles knocked Boston out of the playoffs in game 162 of 2011, and then celebrated as if they had just won the World Series because of it. For that reason, there's no one in the league I would rather see lose their playoff spot this season than the O's. But, at the same time, draft position is key, especially with Boston fighting for a protected pick. So, a dilemma: logic vs. schadenfreude.
Personally, I'm hoping that the O's hold on until game 162, when the Rays knock them out (though, not necessarily in order for the Rays to make it). It would make September 2011 worthwhile for the most anti-Robert Andino of Sox fans, as the month would now just be the setup for the the Most Orioles Joke ever.
What? I'm not bitter.
Game 1: Miguel Gonzalez (85-2/3 IP, 2.1 K/BB, 117 ERA+) vs. Jon Lester (187-1/3 IP, 2.5 K/BB, 89 ERA+)
Game 2: TBD vs. Aaron Cook (87-2/3 IP, 1.2 K/BB, 89 ERA+)
Game 3: TBD vs. Felix Doubront (147 IP, 2.2 K/BB, 86 ERA+)
Well, that was just about the most letdown-y series preview we've had, in terms of learning about Boston's upcoming opponent. You can blame MLB.com for not being updated enough if things change between this post being scheduled and the time it runs.
Miguel Gonzalez has been a bit lucky in 2012, but he's still been good enough, striking out about seven per nine while keeping his walks low enough to get by. The homers are a bit problematic, but they are partially his home park and division's doing, too. Not to give him too much credit: he's mostly been the capable back-end option the Orioles spent the first half looking for. He'll take on Jon Lester, who has been much better in his last 10 starts than he was in either of his first sets of 10. And that's a good sign for 2013, even if he isn't quite vintage Lester yet.
In the next two contests, the Sox will use Aaron Cook, who I'm refusing to discuss given his decision to return to striking people out, and Felix Doubront, who could probably take a lesson or seven from Aaron Cook on how to throw strikes, or at least pitches that hitters won't just leave alone. Doubront's inefficiency has been a serious issue this season, and he doesn't appear to be fixing it anytime soon. There's always 2013, though, if someone is either signed or comes on strong in the spring, maybe Doubront doesn't necessarily have a job next year automatically. Stem the tide of inefficiency now, and the Sox' brass probably feels at least a little better heading into the off-season.