The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles play the final game of the regular season and close out a three-game American League East series Wednesday night at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.
Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Boston will enter tonight with a share of the AL wild-card lead and will likely be headed to Tampa Bay for a one-game playoff Thursday afternoon. That of course depends on the results of tonight’s game in Baltimore and Tampa Bay. “I think it’s really good for baseball, not so good for my stomach,” commented Red Sox manager Terry Francona. The Red Sox have gone straight into the tank in the season’s final month, coming in with a 7-19 record in September, but coming away with an 8-7 victory last night. Boston is 45-35 in road games this year and 38-33 when facing divisional foes.
Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester is 15-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts this season, but enters on a three-game losing streak, allowing 16 runs and 21 hits over 13 2/3 innings over that span. The left-hander has tallied an impressive 10-4 mark and 3.49 ERA in 17 road starts, as opponents are hitting just .218 against him. Lester will be facing the Orioles for the 18th time in this career, coming in with a perfect 14-0 record and 2.33 ERA, including a 7-0 mark at Camden Yards. He is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA against them this year, allowing two runs and four hits over eight frames.
Baltimore is only playing the role of spoiler heading into the final game of the regular season, as the team has won five of its last eight games. The Orioles battled the Red Sox to the end in the middle game of this series, making closer Jonathan Papelbon throw 28 pitches in the final frame. “I think everybody felt like we’d make a run at them, and we did over the course of the game,” commented Orioles manager Buck Showalter. In the last 33 games against Boston, the club has tallied a 16-17 record, including a 9-8 mark at tonight’s venue.
Orioles starting pitcher Alfredo Simon is 4-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 22 games (15 starts) this season and will be looking for his first victory since Aug. 23. The right-hander has registered a 2-4 record and 4.63 ERA in 12 home appearances (eight starts), surrendering nine home runs in 58 1/3 innings. Simon will be making his eighth career appearance (second start) versus the Red Sox, coming in with an 0-1 mark and 5.59 ERA, including a 4-0 road loss on July 9. He allowed three runs and eight hits over 4 2/3 frames in that particular effort.
Bettors will likely back the Red Sox due to their 23-3 record in Lester’s last 26 starts as a favorite of -200 or greater, while the Orioles are 2-9 in their last 11 home games versus left-handed starters.
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