This series is even, after Boston's 7-3 victory Saturday night. The Sox got 5 1/3 good innings from starter Ryan Dempster and two homers from Stephen Drew for the victory.
Boston won Saturday as a +115 dog on the MLB betting line, and the game sneaked OVER its total of nine when Baltimore scored a meaningless run in the bottom of the eighth.
The Orioles now lead this season series six games to three. They've also won six straight series against the Sox.
Baltimore will throw Jason Hammel (7-7, 5.20) in Sunday's rubber match against Jon Lester (9-6, 4.50) for Boston (1:35 pm ET, TBS).
Sunday's Betting Odds
Most books we sampled Sunday morning opened the Orioles at around -110 over the Red Sox, with a total of 9.5. Many sportsbooks then dropped Baltimore to around -105 and the total to nine.
Sunday's Pitching Match-Up
Hammel, by our tough standards, is only 6-for-20 on quality starts this year, and 0 for his last four. Most recently he gave up three runs on 10 hits in six innings vs. Kansas City, and over his last four starts he's allowed 15 ER and 35 hits in 24 innings.
For the season Hammel has given up 134 hits, including 19 dingers, and 41 walks in 117 2/3 innings, with 82 strikeouts.
Baltimore won nine of Hammel's first 11 starts this year, but has lost eight of his last nine outings.
This will be Hammel's first start this year vs. Boston. Last year, in two starts vs. the Sox Hammel held them to three ER and nine hits in 11 2/3 innings. The Orioles won both those games.
Lester, by our tough accounting, is only 7-for-21 on quality starts this season. Last time out he held Tampa to two runs through 6 1/3 innings, walking none while whiffing eight. But in his two starts previous to that he allowed eight ER and 15 hits in 11 1/3 innings.
Lester is trying to distance himself from a terrible run in which he gave up at least four runs in seven of eight starts, stretching through the end of June. So far this month he's given up 11 ER in 24 2/3 innings.
On the season the big lefty has allowed 134 hits, including 17 homers, in 132 innings, walked 45 and struck out 111.
Boston is 13-8 in Lester's starts this year, but only 4-4 over his last eight outings.
In his one start this season vs. Baltimore Lester got nicked for five runs and nine hits in five innings of a 6-3 Sox loss back in June. Last year, in three starts against the O's, Lester gave up nine ER on 21 hits in 19 innings; Boston lost all three of those games.
The OVER/UNDERS are a combined 25-14 in Lester and Hammel's starts this season.
Our Take on Sunday's Game
We've whiffed on the first two games of this series, going with the Sox Friday, then the O's Saturday. So we're a little gun-shy on taking a side for Sunday's game. Instead, we'll look to the total for our free MLB pick and go with the OVER.
Pick: Take the OVER nine runs at the -111 offered at Bet 365.
By: Ron Patrick
Baltimore continued its recent dominance of Boston Friday night by taking the opener of this series 6-0, behind seven shutout innings from Chris Tillman, who's now 13-3 on the season, and a pair of homers from Adam Jones.
The Orioles, to our dismay, won as -105 post-time favorites on Friday's MLB betting line, and the game played UNDER its total of nine.
Boston's loss, combined with Tampa's victory over the Yankees Friday night, means the Red Sox have dropped into second place in the AL East, a half-game back of the Rays.
For whatever reason the Sox, who rank near the top in most offensive categories this year, have been held to two runs or fewer in six of their last nine games.
Baltimore is just 3.5 games off the pace in the East, and now owns a game-and-a-half lead over Texas in the fight for the second American League wild-card spot
Boston now owns the top spot in the AL wild-card standings.
The Orioles will throw newcomer Scott Feldman Saturday (7:05 pm ET) against Ryan Dempster for the Sox.
Saturday's Betting Lines
Most books we sampled Saturday morning opened Baltimore at around -120 for today's game, with a total of nine, and both those numbers had held steady in the early betting.
Saturday's Pitching Match-Up
Feldman (9-7, 3.75) is 11-for-19 on quality starts this season, three for four since coming to Baltimore in a trade with the Cubs. Last time out he held Kansas City to two runs through eight innings of a 9-2 Orioles victory, and he's allowed three runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 outings.
On the season Feldman has given up fewer hits, 104, than innings pitched, 117 2/3, walked 29 and struck out 85.
The Cubbies lost Feldman's first three starts this year, but since then his teams have gone 11-5 whenever he's hit the hill.
Feldman's last start against Boston came last year when, pitching for the Rangers, he held them to one run through seven innings of a 9-1 Texas victory.
Demspter (5-8, 4.28), who's also pitched for both the Cubs and Rangers in his career, is only 9-for-20 on quality starts this year, and 0 for his last two. Most recently he allowed five runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-7 Sox victory over the Yankees last Sunday, and just before that he gave up seven runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings of another 8-7 Boston victory, that one over Seattle.
However, over his last 10 starts Dempster has given up more than three ER just once.
Two numbers on Dempster stick out this season; he's allowed 20 home runs and walked 54. That's how you get into trouble; walking people, then giving up long balls.
In his two starts this season against Baltimore, though, Dempster has been pretty good, giving up five runs (just three earned) and eight hits in 12 2/3 innings; unfortunately for him the Sox lost both those games.
Our Take on Saturday's Game
Dempster has been tagged for 20 homers this season; Baltimore leads the Majors with 141 dingers, after hitting four Friday night. That is not a good sign for Boston. We'll go with the Orioles for our MLB free picks for Saturday.
By: Ron Patrick
Can Boston hold on to that perch, or can Baltimore knock them and most importantly, how should we bet these three games?
Sox-O's Betting Lines
Most baseball books we checked Friday morning opened Baltimore and Chris Tillman at around -125 over Boston and John Lackey, with a total of nine. Most books then also dropped the Orioles to around -120 or -115.
The Greek was lining the O's at -130 to win this series, with the Sox getting +110.
Sox-O's Series Set-Up
Baltimore just lost the last three games of a four-game series in Kansas City, and is 4-3 since the All-Star break.
Boston just dropped two of three games at home to Tampa, before having Thursday's series finale rained out. So the Sox are 3-3 since the break.
Big picture, Boston leads the AL East by a half-game now over Tampa and by four games over third-place Baltimore.
But the O's lead Texas by a half-game in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
Baltimore leads this season series five games to two, and five of those games have played UNDER on the totals. The Orioles have also won 22 of the last 30 games in this series. But that sounds like a lean that should begin to trend back the other way at some point.
Friday's Pitching Match-Up
Tillman (12-3, 3.84) is doing a pretty good job this year of backing up his 9-3 half-season of last year. He's 10-for-20 on quality starts, and is coming off one of his best outings of the season, last Sunday, in which he held Texas to two runs in eight innings of a 4-2 O's win. Just before that he gave up three runs in six innings in an 8-5 victory over Toronto.
On the season Tillman has allowed 116 hits, although 21 homers, in 119 2/3 innings, and while he's got 96 K's he's also walked 44, which is a bit too much.
But thanks to some nice run support Baltimore has won 15 of Tillman's 20 starts this year.
That includes two victories in Tillman's two starts against the Red Sox, in which he's limited them to two runs and nine hits in 11 1/3 innings.
Lackey (7-7, 2.95), who missed all of last season after having TJ surgery, is having a pretty good 2013. So far he's 11-for-17 on quality starts, and just had a string of six in a row snapped when he gave up four runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings vs. the Yankees last Saturday.
In his six starts previous to that Lackey had allowed just 11 earned runs over 43 innings.
On the season Big John has allowed 101 hits in 106 2/3 innings, walked 23 and whiffed 100.
Boston is only 8-9 in Lackey's starts this year, but that's been more of problem with the bullpen and run support than anything else. The Sox have lost Lackey starts by scores of 4-3, 3-2, 4-3 and 3-0.
In his one start previously this season against the Orioles Lackey held them to two runs through seven innings of a 5-4 Boston victory back on June 15 at the Yards.
In the battle of the bullpens for this series Baltimore ranks 16th with a 3.66 ERA and is 39-for-56 on save opportunities, while Boston ranks 23rd with a 3.96 ERA and has blown 15 of 36 save opps.
Sox-Os At the Bat
Baltimore ranks fourth in the Majors in scoring at 4.8 runs per game, third in team OPS and has hit more homers than anybody else, 137.
Boston ranks second in scoring at five RPG, leads the Majors in OPS and ranks 13th in homers with 104.
Sox-O's Betting Trends
The OVER/UNDERS are 21-24 in games played at Camden Yards this year, but a lot of that has to do with the high numbers bookies are posting on Orioles home games.
The O/Us are also a combined 9-25 in Tillman and Lackey's starts this season.
Our Take on Friday's Game
We give Lackey a short edge in the pitching match-up, and everything else looks fairly even. Baltimore has had Boston's number recently, but that can't last forever. And the Sox are getting an underdog price, although it was getting shorter by the minute as we wrote this Friday morning. So we'll go with Boston for our free MLB pick for Friday.
Pick: Take the Red Sox at the +106 at Heritage.