Let the games begin

Well, here it is. Opening day, a day just about every fan can't wait for over the long winter. Today, the Orioles begin their quest to get back to the playoffs and to produce a third straight winning season for the first time since 1992-94.

Expectations are high for this club and fans are excited to see what the 2014 Orioles can do. They play in baseball's toughest division and will open the season playing 19 of their first 22 games against American League East opponents. The other series is three on the road at Detroit. The Orioles will need to be ready from the first pitch today against that schedule.

Chris Tillman makes his first opening day start this afternoon at 3:05 p.m. Tillman went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA last year. He made the All-Star team, was the club's clear No. 1 pitcher and threw 206 1/3 innings.

Tillman looked on his way to a possible 20-win season when he won his 14th game Aug. 2. But after that he got a win in just two of his last 11 starts.
Tillman pitched well against Boston in 2013, going 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA over six starts. The Orioles went 5-1 in those six games. Tillman is 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA over 11 career starts against Boston.

Last season, the 25-year-old right-hander averaged 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings against Boston, ahead of his pace of 7.8 strikeouts per nine for the year.

Boston led the majors with 853 runs scored last year, but the Sox hit just .222 with an OPS of .657 against Tillman in 2013.

By the way, the O's first five starters last season, in order, were Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Jake Arrieta and Tillman, who began the year on the disabled list. Now the first five are Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chen, Gonzalez and Bud Norris.

According to STATS, if Jonathan Schoop starts at second base today, he'll be the first Orioles rookie to start there since Rich Dauer in 1977.

The Orioles are 24-13 the last two seasons against Boston, outscoring the Red Sox 167-152 after going 13-5 versus Boston in 2012 and 11-8 last year.

The Orioles were the only AL East team to have a winning season against Boston in 2013:

* Orioles 11-8
* New York 6-13
* Tampa Bay 7-12
* Toronto 8-11

The Orioles have won 11 of their last 14 series against the Red Sox, going 20-11 in the last 31 and 30-16 in their past 46 games.

Since we have published some predictions with the Orioles finishing at or near the bottom of the AL East, here is one you might like from a national reporter. If you like that one, click here to read an article, coming out of New York, that predicts the 2014 season will end with the Orioles in the World Series for the first time in 31 years.

Meanwhile, if Tillman can pitch the O's to a win today, Ubaldo Jimenez will have the chance to help the O's to a series win on Wednesday night.

If you are going to Camden Yards today, the gates open to fans at noon and the pregame ceremonies start at 2:30 p.m. MASN's live coverage begins with "O's Xtra" at 2 p.m. on MASN HD.

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