BALTIMORE ORIOLES (8-8)
at BOSTON RED SOX (8-10)
First pitch: Sunday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -155, Baltimore +140, Total: 9
The Red Sox look to move up the AL East standings when they host the Orioles on Sunday night.
Entering this series, Baltimore has played its past eight games against AL East opponents and is 5-3 in those contests, but it fell two games to one in the season-opening series at home against Boston. The O's offense has hit .260 on the season (6th in majors) coming into this series, but has scored just 56 runs (8th-worst in MLB) thus far. C Matt Wieters (.341 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI) has started the year off hot, and has only one more year of arbitration after this year, so is due for a big paycheck if he continues to play well. The Red Sox have not done too well in the wake of their World Series Championship, but come into this series with two straight wins against the White Sox. Their offense has really had their troubles though, and coming into this series have scored just 3.0 runs per game over their past seven contests. Getting the start for the Orioles in this one will be RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-3, 7.31 ERA) who was signed to a 4-year, $50 million contract in the offseason, but has been pounded over his first three starts. Boston will send RHP Jake Peavy (0-0, 1.93 ERA) to the mound to face Jimenez, and he has yet to have a decision despite three quality starts to begin the year. Although Boston was able to pull out a series win against the Orioles to open up this season, it has gone just 13-24 (.351) against them in the previous two years, including a 6-12 record at home.
Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the best pitchers after the All-Star break last year with a 1.82 ERA (1.14 WHIP) and 10.7 K/9 over 84 innings on the mound. That pitching earned him his big contract with the Orioles, but he has yet to give up fewer than four runs in a game this year. In his last start Sunday versus the Blue Jays, Jimenez allowed 10 hits and five runs over 5.1 IP with two of the hits leaving the yard. Heís had only five starts against the Red Sox in his career, but they have not gone well, as he is 1-3 against them with a bloated 10.27 ERA and 2.03 WHIP, allowing 34 hits in just 23.2 innings. OF Jonny Gomes (5-for-15, 2 HR, 5 RBI), 1B Mike Napoli (4-for-7, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and 2B Dustin Pedroia (7-for-13, 4 RBI) have owned Jimenez in their careers. Meanwhile, DH David Ortiz (1-for-7, 1 HR) and C A.J. Pierzynski (4-for-20, 1 HR) have not fared nearly as well. Coming into this series, the Orioles bullpen has been solid this year with a 3-0 record and 3.18 ERA (1.26 WHIP), while saving 4-of-5 games. Tommy Hunter (3.60 ERA, 4 saves) has earned the closer role after a strong 2013 campaign, but blew his first save against the Blue Jays last week.
Jake Peavy has been strong for the Red Sox since joining the team, but has not been able to earn a win over his first three starts in 2014 despite allowing just 12 hits and four runs in 18.2 innings on the mound. He also has 20 strikeouts over that time, but has struggled with his command, handing out 10 free passes. Peavy threw six innings in his last outing, giving up just three hits to the White Sox, as one of the hits went for a solo homer and Boston ended up losing by a score of 2-1. He has started just three times against the Orioles, going 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA (0.95 WHIP) and striking out 10.4 batters per nine innings. SS J.J. Hardy has had the most experience against Peavy, but is an anemic 1-for-17 (.059) with 3 Kís when facing him. The only player on the Baltimore roster who has taken the righty deep is reserve OF Delmon Young who is just 3-for-13 (.231) with 5 Kís in the matchup. Coming into this series, Bostonís relievers have combined for a very impressive 2.37 ERA and have saved 80% (4-for-5) of its save chances. Closer Koji Uehara (0.00 ERA, 3 saves) earned his third save of the year Thursday night, and has yet to allow a run while striking out eight (0 walks) in six innings of work.