The Boston Red Sox (90-71) take their playoff hopes down to the very last day of the season as they complete a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles (68-93) tonight at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s the last chance Boston has at redeeming themselves from one of the worst Septembers in recent memories, as they’ve faltered on a 7-19 stretch to end up even with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League Wild Card race, after having a 9 game lead in the Wild Card in early September. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles seek to end a once promising, yet in the end disappointing season, with their 11th win in 16 games while helping to knock out their AL East foes Boston from playoff contention this season.
Boston will turn to the arm of Jon Lester (15-9, 3.49 ERA), who has struggled mightily lately and comes into this match-up on just 3 days’ rest. If ever the Red Sox need Lester to return to form, right now would be the time to do so. Though Lester has simply owned Baltimore, going 14-0 against them in 17 starts including 7-0 in 9 starts at Camden, he’s 0-3 in his last 3 outings overall, posting a massive 10.24 ERA during that cold spell. In opposition today for Baltimore, Alfredo Simon tries to earn his first victory since August 23rd, and comes into this match-up off a solid performance against Detroit where he went 8 innings giving up 3 runs in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers. Consistency has been Simon’s issue all season long, and the Red Sox will certainly be hoping he returns to the less-consistent form he’s had on and off in tonight’s final game of the regular season.
Betting Lines for the Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Betonline Sportsbook has the Boston Red Sox as favorites at -183 odds to win on the money line, while Baltimore is a +173 option to win outright. For the run line the O’s get 1.5 runs at +105 odds, while Boston gives up 1.5 runs at -125 odds. The over/under on total runs for the game stands at 9, with +105 under, -125 over.
Our Pick to Win
Boston likely could not imagine a month ago that they would be in a fight with the Baltimore Orioles for their survival in the postseason. After leading the AL East division for a large chunk of the season, now their backs are up against the wall on the road, against a Baltimore team that has nothing to lose. It’s time for Jon Lester to earn his money in today’s favorable match-up on paper for the BoSox, and against Alfredo Simon, we’re predicting that the Red Sox bats finally get back into the groove, and hand the Orioles a big-time loss on the road tonight, 8-2.
Players to Watch, Baltimore:
Nick Markakis, RF – Having posted a solid season (.275, 15 homers, 73 RBIs) Markakis will look to finish the year strong, and inch his month totals up to .300 batting (currently .298). He’s knocked in 14 RBIs so far this month, and will look to improve his .254 average against Boston pitching on the final day of the season.
J.J. Hardy, SS – Hitting .370 in the last 7 games, Hardy will seek out a 30th homer tonight to cap off a solid power hitting season for the O’s shortstop. Hitting .267 with 29 jacks and 78 RBIs, look out for hard-swinging performance tonight from Hardy.
Players to Watch, Boston:
Jacob Ellsbury, CF – One of the few bright spots through September, Ellsbury continues his outstanding season, hitting .365 for the month with 8 homers and 21 RBIs. His line of .322, 32 homers and 105 RBIs and 211 hits is simply amazing considering he’s never had more than 9 home runs in a full season, or more than 60 RBIs. Ellsbury is hitting .413 on the year against Baltimore, and has gone 3-for-3 against Simon in his short history with him.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B – The Boston 2nd baseman continues to sustain a solid pace of hitting into the final day of regular season play, hitting .385 in his last 5 games and getting at least 2 hits in 4 of his last 5 games played. He’ll look to improve on his production though, having only generated 1 RBI in his last 7 games, and looks to finish the season strong against Baltimore, who he’s hit for a .348 average.