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Series Preview: The Sox Take On The Surging O’s In Charm City

A big series against an Orioles team that’s paced the AL East over the last two months.

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

With the Pirates interleague series wrapping up last night, the Sox travel to Baltimore for an important divisional series with playoff implications, as the Orioles hold a two-and-a-half-game lead over the Red Sox in both the division and the wildcard. This will be the fourth series between the two teams, with the Orioles holding a 5-4 edge on the season.

Both teams seem to be finding their stride as the postseason inches closer. Currently, the Orioles are a game and half back of the second wild card spot. They’re 4-3 over the last seven games, after losing a series to the Rays, bouncing back against the Blue Jays, and then losing one random game against the Cubs. With series wins over the Yankees and the Pirates, the Red Sox are coming in hot and will try to get one step closer to the wild card.

Friday, August 19, 7:05 EST (NESN)

Kutter Crawford: (18 G, 9 GS. 64.2 IP, 65 SO, W-L: 3-4, ERA: 4.18, FIP: 3.87, SO%: 24.3, BB%: 8.6)

Jordan Lyles: (24 G, 24 GS, 134.2 IP, 114 SO, W-L: 9-9, ERA: 4.48, FIP: 4.39, SO%: 19.2, BB%: 7.6)

Kutter Crawford will be making his tenth start of the season in the series opener. Crawford has already made an impact during his short time as a starter, holding opponents to a batting average of .222, an on-base percentage of .285, and a slugging percentage of .385. He’s thrown just one inning in relief against the Orioles this season (all the way back in May), and has notched four quality starts in his last six outings.

Jordan Lyles has been in the Orioles rotation all season. He’s been strong in August, with a 3.86 ERA in three starts, compared to his season mark of 4.48, and although he leads the league in hits given up with 150, the Orioles are 9-9 in his starts. Lyles is much better at a home, with a record of 4-2 in 10 games started at Camden Yards this season, an ERA of 2.73, and an opponent’s batting average of .270. He’s made two starts against the Sox this year, throwing six innings of one-run ball on the first of May, but then failing to make it through the fifth a few weeks later.

Saturday, August 20th, 4:05 EST (NESN)

Michael Wacha: (14 G, 14 GS, 77.1 IP, 59 SO, W-L: 7-1, ERA: 2.44, FIP: 3.70, SO%: 19.2, BB%: 7.5)

Kyle Bradish: (14 G, 14 GS, 66.1 IP, 67 SO, W-L: 1-4, ERA: 6.38, FIP: 5.24, SO%: 22.5, BB%: 9.1)

Wacha has been nothing short of the Red Sox’s best starting pitcher this season. But while he’s notched wins against every other AL East team outside of Baltimore, he has yet to face the O’s this year, and has pitched noticeably worse away from Fenway (1.14 ERA with a .174 opponents batting average at home vs. 3.79 and .234 on the road). A 60-point increase from home games to road games is certainly not ideal, but Wacha has been the unsung hero that the Red Sox needed all season.

Bradish is ultimately the worst starter in this three-game set for the Orioles, and he’s been particularly bad at home, with a 6.52 ERA and an 0-3 record. While he held the Sox to just five hits over six innings in his Major League debut back in April, the Sox lit him up in late May, scoring six runs and knocking him out of the game in the second inning.

Sunday, August 21st: (ESPN)

Nick Pivetta: (24 G, 24 GS, 136.2 IP, 130 SO, W-L: 9-9, ERA: 4.28, FIP: 4.11, SO%: 22.6, BB%: 8.7)

Dean Kremer: (13 G, 13 GS, 70.1 IP, 55 SO, W-L: 5-4, ERA: 3.58, FIP: 3.70, SO%: 18.8, BB%: 5.5)

It is only fitting that the most called upon starting pitcher for the Red Sox is pitching in the finale of an important divisional series with playoff implications. Pivetta has been durable for the Sox this year, leading the team in starts, wins, and strikeouts, with 130. He’s made two starts agaisnt the Orioles this season, with a 3.48 ERA and a win-loss record of 1-1. In those two games, Pivetta gave up 4 ER, 11 hits, and zero home runs with an opponent’s batting average of .275 on 10 strikeouts and 3 walks. More recently, he’s coming off two quality starts versus Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Kremer has been the best starter for the Orioles this season, leading the team in ERA, ERA+, FIP, and WHIP. He has five wins in 13 starts, and has been better at home than on the road, with a 2-2 record and a 3.41 ERA at Camden. He did struggle in his one appearance against the Sox, though, surrendering four earned runs over five innings of work. The finale of this series will be critical for both teams’ quests to earn the final A.L wildcard spot.