The Orioles are back in Boston for the first time since April 17-20, when they split four games, lost their starting pitcher to an ejection and lost their starting second baseman to a knee injury.
Ubaldo Jimenez was tossed in the opener after hitting Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval on the right shoulder with two outs in the fourth inning. He hadn’t allowed a hit or a run, but he walked three batters and nailed Sandoval.
Plate umpire Jordan Baker decided that a gross overreaction was in order. Apparently, the three walks didn’t provide enough evidence that Jimenez’s command was lacking.
In that same game, Jonathan Schoop tripped over first base - or Mike Napoli’s foot - and went on the disabled list the following day. He finished the game, a walk-off win for the Red Sox, but limped through the clubhouse the next morning, unable to put any real pressure on his right knee.
Schoop may be nearing a return to the Orioles. He started again last night for Double-A Bowie on his injury rehab assignment, playing in consecutive games after we were told he’d likely rest every other day.
The Orioles will need to make roster moves for Schoop and starters Miguel Gonzalez (Thursday) and Wei-Yin Chen (Friday). They’re carrying only 11 pitchers, but eight relievers, including Mychal Givens and Oliver Drake.
It appears that two position players eventually have to come off the roster to create spots for Schoop and a pitcher. I’ve heard suggestions that Ryan Flaherty could be optioned, but he’s needed as the utility infielder and insurance in case Schoop’s knee doesn’t hold up. Who backs up at shortstop if Flaherty is gone?
If you say Jimmy Paredes, you are immediately fined and suspended as though you have a sticky substance on your forearm.
The Orioles are 7-3 against the Red Sox this season after sweeping a three-game series at Camden Yards on June 9-11. They’re 14-20 on the road this season, compared to 22-13 at home, and 20-21 in night games, compared to 15-11 during the day. They’re also 12-12 in the first game of a series.
Jimenez is 1-3 with an 8.42 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox, with 26 walks and 39 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings, and 0-1 with a 7.41 ERA in four starts at Fenway Park, with 17 walks and 15 strikeouts in 17 innings.
Sandoval is 11-for-34 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and 10 strikeouts against Jimenez. Dustin Pedroia is 7-for-21, Napoli is 4-for-11 with a double and two home runs, David Ortiz is 2-for-15 with a home run and Hanley Ramirez is 1-for-11.
Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly also started the April 17 game and allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He’s 2-4 with a 5.32 ERA in 13 outings this season, but he’s surrendered two earned runs or fewer in five of the last seven games.
Kelly is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles. Right-handers are batting .298 against him this season, compared to the .221 average posted by left-handers. Another reverse splits guy.
The current Orioles are 13-for-54 (.241) against Kelly. Only Travis Snider (4-for-14) has accumulated more than six at-bats, and Caleb Joseph (1-for-6) has the only home run.