Orioles at Red Sox Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/10/2013
I realize the 2013 Major League Baseball season is barely a week old, but it already looks like both the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are what I thought they would be. The teams had a rare off day Tuesday before resuming their three-game series Wednesday night at Fenway.
I expected the Red Sox to be vastly improved this season after last year's 69-93 disaster. The clubhouse was cancerous all year largely due to Manager Bobby Valentine. Most of the players knew and respected John Farrell from when he was Boston's pitching coach, so bringing him in to replace Valentine figured to change the culture around the team. I wasn't a huge fan of the actual player moves the Sox did this offseason but expected big-time bounce-back seasons from Jon Lester (my AL Cy Young choice) and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (my top value choice for AL MVP). Lester has looked like an ace, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 10 hits allowed and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. Ellsbury also has been pretty good, batting .273 with a homer, seven RBI and four steals.
However, your early AL MVP is probably Baltimore DH Chris Davis. He's hitting .417 with four homers and an MLB-leading (by far) 17 RBI. He homered in four straight games to start the year -- first Oriole to do so and fourth major-leaguer overall -- but has quieted down since with just one hit in the past three games. I didn't expect much from Baltimore this year because, statistically, 2012 was such a fluke. The Birds were an incredible 29-9 in one-run games last year, a major-league record. They finished second in the AL East and earned a wild-card berth despite a scant plus-7 run differential. By comparison, the Rays were plus-120, the White Sox plus-72 and the Angels plus-68, and all three missed the postseason.
Already the Orioles are proving that their one-run success was a fluke. They lost back-to-back one-run games over the weekend to Minnesota. Baltimore didn't do that all of last year (against any team, of course). The Birds are 0-3 in one-run games overall.
Orioles at Red Sox Betting Story Lines
Baltimore, which is on a three-game losing streak, could be well back in the AL East by the end of this month as it has a killer schedule. After this series, the Birds visit the Yankees, host the Rays, Dodgers and Blue Jays and then visit the A's. Those are all playoff-caliber teams. Baltimore will also be without injury-prone second baseman Brian Roberts all month. The guy is a great player when healthy -- which is practically never these days -- and he was hitting .417 this year before going down with a hamstring injury.
My biggest concern for the Orioles was their pitching staff, as nearly every starter overachieved last season. So far, the team's ERA of 4.57 is 22nd in baseball, and it has had just three quality starts. Jason Hammel pitched like an ace last year, something he had never done before. He has come back to earth with a 4.97 ERA through two starts, more than a point-and-a-half more than his ERA last year. Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman also have been knocked around in their lone start so far. Arrieta, who won the final rotation spot this spring, gets the call for this game. He allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings of a no-decision against the Twins. He was 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in 7.2 innings vs. Boston last season. Ellsbury loves facing this guy, with two homers in five at-bats. Dustin Pedroia is hitting .364 with a homer off Arrieta.
Boston goes with Ryan Dempster in his Fenway Park debut as a member of the Red Sox. Dempster was a bit wild in his first start, allowing three runs in five innings in a loss to the Yankees, striking out eight but walking four. Dempster was excellent last year with the Cubs but not so much when traded to Texas -- he might not be cut out for the more powerful American League lineups. That said, he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox in 2012. One was with the Cubs and one with the Rangers.
The Red Sox beat the Orioles 3-1 in Monday's series opener behind another great start from Clay Buchholz. It was the Sox's ninth straight home-opening win. Boston pitchers had 18 consecutive scoreless innings before Adam Jones hit his first homer of the year in the ninth off Sox closer Joel Hanrahan, who finished with his third save. The teams combined for just 10 hits.
Orioles at Red Sox MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Boston has been opened at -140 and Baltimore +130 with the total at 9.5. The Orioles are 5-2 “over/under” (3-1 on road) and 2-2 as a dog. The Red Sox are 4-3 O/U (0-1 at home) and were a favorite for the first time this season on Monday.
The Orioles have won 14 of their past 20 against right-handed starters. They are 0-4 in Arrieta's past four road starts. The Red Sox are 4-1 in their past five after allowing two runs or fewer in the previous game. Boston has won just 10 of its past 30 against righty starters. It is 1-5 in its past six Game 2s of a series. The under is 6-1 in Baltimore's past seven after a loss. The over is 10-1 in Arrieta's last 11 starts when the Orioles' opponent allows two runs or less in its previous game. The over is 7-3 in Arrieta's past 10 starts overall. The over is 4-0 in the Red Sox's past four games vs. a right-handed starter. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Boston. The Orioles are 0-4 in Arrieta's past four starts vs. the Red Sox.
Orioles at Red Sox Picks and Betting Predictions
Stephen Drew is likely to make his Boston debut at shortstop in this one. He suffered a concussion on March 7 but is expected to be activated off the DL and start. Drew was once a rising star in the league with Arizona, but injuries have derailed his career. He's on a one-year deal with Boston and was 3-for-16 (.188) in Grapefruit League action.
Baltimore was 13-5 against Boston a year ago. Arrieta was very good this spring but never has shown much in the majors, so as much as I'd like to roll the dice on Baltimore I just can't. The Sox should be able to rough him up, and I'm not overly sold on Dempster, either. Take Boston and the over.
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