The Baltimore Orioles open up a key series over the weekend tonight in Boston against the BoSox at Fenway Park. I call it a key series because Boston took two-of-three from the Orioles in the first series of the season, and they’re a team the O’s are going to have to get by if this season is going to be a success. The good news for Orioles fans is that the team really started clicking on all cylinders this past week against Tampa. On Monday we saw how potent the Orioles’ lineup can be, and on Wednesday we had the chance to see the Birds scoring runs in smaller bunches and in less conspicuous manners. The key to beating Boston remains pitching, and if the Orioles can get solid pitching this weekend they’ll be in good shape.
Many people have commented on how brutal the early schedule has been for the O’s, as they’ve played all but three games within the AL East. However my point there would be that you’re going to play all of these teams 18-19 times anyways – so you’ll get them at some point. So that’s not really an issue in my mind. What is kind of a petty quirk by the league office (who made the schedule) is to have the O’s and BoSox playing the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN this weekend, and then have to turn around and play an 11 AM game on Monday (which is Patriot’s Day in Boston). Mind you, there’s no issue withe O’s being the team to play Boston on Monday, as quite frankly it’s an honor to take part in a tradition such as the 11 AM Patriot’s Day game at Fenway.
The issue is the Sunday night game the evening before. The league feels that they’re addressing this “problem” by moving the start time to 7 PM as opposed to the normal 8 PM timeslot for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. However playing a day game after a night game is tough enough as it is on players…but at 11 AM? Obviously Buck Showalter and the Orioles will roll with it (because they don’t have much choice in the matter), but I don’t think they’re too happy about it. Incidentally playing on Sunday Night Baseball is also great exposure for the O’s nationally. But again, the issue is having to turn around and play the next morning. But the fact is that the BoSox are in the same boat in terms of the schedule.
Chris Tillman will take to the mound tonight in game one of the series, and he’ll be faced by John Lackey. Tillman of course was initially going to pitch on Saturday, but Showalter reshuffled the rotation just a bit as a result of Tuesday’s rain out. The O’s will then turn around and play tomorrow at 1:30 before going into the aforementioned Sunday night/Monday morning sequence. But first thing’s first; game one is tonight at 7 PM…at “the Fens.”