Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#5971 Boston Red Sox vs.
#5972 Baltimore Orioles
Saturday, August 20, 2022 at 4:05pm EDT
Written by Mark Ruelle

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The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles continue their crucial three-game series in Baltimore on Saturday. The two teams have flipped positions in the AL East standings in recent weeks and the Orioles now find themselves out in front of Boston with just over sixty games left in the season. Both teams still have a legitimate shot at one of the three wildcard spots in the American League. On the mound on Saturday afternoon will be veteran right-hander Michael Wacha (7-1, 2.44) of the Red Sox taking on fellow righty Kyle Bradish (1-4, 6,38). First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm EST.

Still Breathing

The message the Red Sox brass sent out at the trade deadline was much like the team's season: inconsistent. While the team added Reds outfielder Tommy Pham and Padres' first baseman Eric Hosmer, starting catcher Christian Vasquez was dealt and the team didn't add any much-needed pitching. The Red Sox have played inconsistent baseball all season long as they've dealt with a variety of injuries, particularly to their pitching staff. Now, with the returns of Kike Hernandez to their lineup and pitchers Michael Wacha, Rich Hill and Nathan Eovaldi back to the starting rotation, the Red Sox have picked up their play recently. The Sox head into this matchup with Baltimore winners of two straight series. On Friday night, in the series opener against the O's, the Sox bats were ready but the team's pitching was not. Starter Kutter Crawford gave up 11 hits and 9 runs in just 3.2 innings and the Sox bullpen was not much better as the team allowed 18 hits and 15 runs in a 15-10 loss.

Since the all-star break, the Red Sox have gone just 11-15 heading into Friday night's game. Since the August 3rd trade deadline, the team has gone just 6-8. Still, Boston finds itself within striking distance of the third and final wildcard spot. With the return of Kike Hernandez, the insertion of Tommy Pham at the top of the order, and Eric Hosmer holding down first base, the Red Sox may finally have the type of lineup that can score more consistently and the type of outfield that can take hits away from the opposition. On the mound on Saturday will be one of the Sox newly returning pitchers, Michael Wacha. Wacha has had an outstanding first season for the Sox and bounced back from arm fatigue in his last start to dominate the Yankees. Wacha went seven innings, allowed just two hits, no runs and struck out a season-high nine batters. Wacha has yet to face the Orioles this season.

O's Need Offense

The Orioles have been one of the 'feel good' stories of major league baseball this season. Picked to finish in last place yet again in the AL East Division and coming off a season in which the team won just 52 games, Baltimore finds itself with 61 wins already and with a shot at making the American League playoffs for the first time since 2016. On Friday night against long-term rival Boston, the Orioles pounded out 18 hits and five home runs in a 15-10 win that inched the Birds one game closer to third place Tampa Bay. The O's are now just a game and a half in back of Tampa Bay in the AL East standings with the win.

The Orioles have quietly been one of the best teams in baseball, record-wise, since the middle of May. In fact, since May 17th, the Orioles have the best winning percentage in the American League East. The Orioles have done this without a dominant starting rotation, without a hitter having a career year and despite trading away their closer and starting DH in recent weeks. On the mound on Saturday afternoon, trying to keep the O's ahead of the Red Sox, will be Kyle Bradish. Bradish is 0-0 in his last five starts with an ERA of 5.55. He has given up 30 hits in 24.1 innings of work while striking out 24 and walking 10 batters. Bradish is 0-1 in two starts against Boston this season with an ERA of 9.39. He has allowed 11 hits in 7.1 innings of work vs. Boston this season.

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The Red Sox are 4-5 against the Orioles this season but are also just 2.5 games behind the Orioles since the May 17th date I referenced earlier. Boston will be sending their most productive lineup on the field on Saturday with Hernandez available and Pham hitting at the top of the order. The Red Sox have even got an unexpected boost from newly acquired catcher Reese McGwire, who is hitting .379 in nine games with Boston since the trade deadline deal. Boston is an impressive 10-4 in games started by Wacha this season and he looked to be in top form in his last outing against the Yankees. Boston wisely space out his next start and Wacha will be pitching on five full days of rest on Saturday. The Orioles are 5-5 in their last ten games heading into the series opener on Friday and are just 11-24 against Boston at home over the past five seasons. Boston has handled Bradish well in both his appearances against them this season as well.

Take the Sox with the money line.

Prediction: Boston -118

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Warm weather and a full lineup are a great combination for the Red Sox. In Hernandez's two games played since his return, the team has scored 6.5 runs per game. Hernandez's insertion in the lineup gives Boston a stronger lineup near the bottom of the order, as has the addition of Hosmer to the lineup. Boston has also pounded Bradish in both his starts against them this season and the team is 6-3-1 to the over in its last ten games. The Orioles are 6-4 to the over in their last ten games but should score enough to push this game past the total. The two teams combined for 25 runs in game one and, while they aren't likely to top that number, they'll surpass the total in this one.

Take the over, 8.5 runs.

Prediction: Over 8.5
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.