NESN has been running some commercials recently, saying the Sox are looking to take out the AL Doormat Orioles.
You would think we would have learned.
These Orioles are not a good team, there's no doubt about that. But any team can still beat any other team in any given series, and the last thing the Sox--who have only managed a 4-3 record in the easier portion of their schedule--need is another series loss to the Orioles.
Luckily for the Sox, the things that made the Orioles a bad team then are still there. One of the worst offenses, one of the worst defenses, and one of the worst pitching staffs in the league. With manager Dave Trembley having just been given the boot, they don't even have stability in the clubhouse (though in cases like this, that could be a good thing).
Let's look at the specifics: In the lineup, there's a vast separation between the team's best 3 hitters and the rest of the team. Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton, and the resurgent Nick Markakis are all hitting well enough to hit at the top or in the middle of the lineup of most teams. The problem is, once they get on base, there's nobody to knock them in. Corey Patterson has been serviceable in limited at bats, but when Brad Bergesen's 1 single in 3 at bats gives him the team's next best wOBA, you know things are bad.
While the Orioles are not a pitching rich team, the Red Sox will take one of their best shots. Brian Matusz has the rotation's best FIP at 3.97, Jeremy Guthrie has a sub-4 ERA, though he's been a bit lucky BABIP-wise, and...Well, Chris Tillman's only start so far has been successful in that he only gave up 2 earned in nearly 6 innings, but it wasn't exactly an impressive outing. He's going to need to show more than he did last time out if he wants to beat the Sox, who will not be likely to strand every man who reaches when they're not getting struck out
While the Orioles' pen also ranks towards the back end of the majors, they do at least have a few solid pitchers they can go to. If the Orioles are ahead after 6, they'll have an OK shot at holding the lead with Jason Berken, Mark Hendrickson, and Will Ohman. This is no lockdown group, but they're also no pushovers.
While what's made the Orioles a bad team remains, a lot of the worst bits about the Red Sox have gone. They're scoring more runs, hitting when they need to, playing solid defense (well, not all of them...We need our outfield back!), and--oh yeah--they've got Lester and Buchholz starting this series. Things are coming together for the Sox--hopefully they don't get unraveled by the Orioles like last time.