MLB Preview 2012: Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox

The Baltimore Orioles (32-24) and Boston Red Sox (28-28) will close out a three-game American League East series on Thursday night at Fenway Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET

Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz hasn't fared well against Orioles SP Brian Matusz in his career

Baltimore has now won its last seven games against Boston at Fenway Park, which is the franchise’s longest such winning streak at the historic venue.  The Orioles have won all five such games in 2012, including a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.  “Everybody is doing a little part for the team,” stated Orioles outfielder Endy Chavez.  The bullpen has been especially great, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA entering last night’s affair.  Baltimore is 6-8 as a road underdog of +125 to +150, with the “over” going 8-5 in that situation.

Orioles starting pitcher Brian Matusz (5-5, 4.41 ERA) is coming off a 2-1 road victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing just a single run and two hits over 7.1 frames.  The left-hander is 3-2 with a 4.15 ERA in five road starts this year, issuing 12 walks and striking out 23 batters in 30.1 frames.  In seven career games versus the Red Sox, Matusz has tallied a 3-1 record and 3.58 ERA, including a 4-1 home win on May 22.

Boston sits in fifth place in the division and trails first-place Baltimore by four games entering tonight’s contest, as the club hopes that second baseman Dustin Pedroia can move past a thumb injury he’s been hampered with.  The former AL MVP is hitless in seven at-bats since returning to the lineup after sitting out six games.  Designated hitter David Ortiz is batting just .125 against the Orioles this year, which may get worse due to having just a single hit in 13 career at-bats against Matusz.  Boston is 6-3 as a home favorite of -125 to -150, with the “over” cashing in each of those contests.

Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (5-2, 6.58 ERA) has watched the club alternate wins and losses over his last seven outings, picking up a 7-2 road win over the Toronto Blue Jays in his latest effort.  The right-hander is 3-1 with a 6.38 ERA in six home outings, allowing opponents to hit .310 against him, including 10 home runs in 36.2 innings.  In 12 career games (11 starts) versus the Orioles, Buchholz has produced a 5-3 record and 4.16 ERA.

Bettors will likely back the Orioles due to their 5-0 mark in Matusz’s last five starts versus divisional foes, while the Red Sox are 17-36 overall in the same situation.

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