Orioles-Red Sox: Previewing the Weekend in New England

Tom RichardsCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2009

The start of the second half of the season has been anything but kind for the Baltimore Orioles. Having lost five of their last six games, the O's are now a season-high 12 games under .500.

The Boston Red Sox aren't enjoying the second half of the season either.  Also posting a 1-5 record to start the second half, the Red Sox offense has mustered just 13 runs in six games since the mid-summer classic. This swoon has dropped the Sox to second place in the American League East behind the New York Yankees.

The Orioles have been pitiful on the road this season, especially against American League East opponents.  Having an overall road record of 15-32, including 1-14 this season against divisional opponents does not bode well for the Orioles this weekend.

Fenway Park has been no different for the Birds, as they have only won six times in their past 31 games in Boston. This includes a four-game sweep at the hands of the Sox earlier this season in April.

The Red Sox meanwhile are an American League best 31-14 at home this season. Boston hits .272 at home compared to .252 on the road, and also posts a 3.73 home ERA compared to a 4.40 ERA on the road.

With all of these ominous statistics pointing against the Orioles this weekend, the one thing they have working in their favor is the the pitching trio they will send to the mound.

Bradley Bergesen has exceeded everyone's expectations this season, posting a 3.51 ERA in 17 starts this season. Jeremy Guthrie is coming off arguably his best performance of the season, as he went eight strong against the White Sox allowing only two runs on three hits.

Sunday's starter, David Hernandez, showed a lot of guts in his last outing, as he pitched six innings in Yankees Stadium and only allowed one earned run in a no-decision.

The Orioles will face Brad Penny, Jon Lester, and John Smoltz in the three-game series.

Penny has been somewhat of a disappointment this season for Boston, posting a 5.02 ERA and only winning once in his last nine starts.

Lester has been a Baltimore Orioles killer during his brief career. In 10 career starts, Lester is 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA against the O's.

John Smoltz has only made four career starts against Baltimore, as he had always been a member of the Atlanta Braves previously. Smoltz's last start against Baltimore came June 30 of this season. As we all know, that night was the biggest comeback in Orioles franchise history as they came back and won 11-10.

With the pitching matchups lining up as they have, and the Red Sox entering the series on a longer losing streak than the O's, the Orioles have no excuse to not win at least one in the three-game series.

Who knows? Maybe, they'll surprise us all and actually win the series. All I know is if they fail to play fundamental baseball this weekend they will be run out of Fenway and continue their slide to the cellar of the American League East.