O’s game blog: O’s play Red Sox in home opener

Riding on a bit of a high after their 11-inning win at New York last night, the Orioles would love to take that momentum and roll it into a win this afternoon. They host the Boston Red Sox in their 2021 home opener to start a three-game series.

In a game where the Orioles were held to four hits and struck out 17 times, and needed their bullpen to cover 6 1/3 innings, they pulled out a thrilling 4-3 win over the Yankees. The game ended with right fielder Anthony Santander’s outfield assist, cutting down the tying run at the plate on a 9-2 game-ending double play.

At 4-2, the Orioles are alone in first in the American League East today, by one game over Boston, New York and Toronto and by two games over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Camden Yards daytime.jpgO’s right-hander Matt Harvey (0-0, 3.86 ERA) will make his second start for his new team. Harvey did not get a decision in a 4-2 O’s win on Saturday at Boston. He went 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs with one walk and four strikeouts.

Harvey threw 86 pitches, 52 for strikes, at Fenway Park. He used his four-seam fastball 57 times and it averaged 93 mph, per Statcast, topping at 95 mph. He threw nine sliders and nine curveballs.

A former O’s farmhand, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, gets the start for Boston. He was scheduled to face John Means on opening day in Boston, but instead went to the injured list with a dead arm.

Today, Rodriguez will make his first regular season start in 587 days.

Early last year, he was dealing with COVID-19 and then missed the entire year due to myocarditis.

The O’s signed Rodriguez originally out of Venezuela. Former O’s pitcher and scout Calvin Maduro signed him for a bonus of $175,000 in January 2010. In July 2014, the O’s added lefty reliever Andrew Miller when they traded Rodriguez to Boston.

That day they traded him, Rodriguez was with the Double-A Bowie Baysox, playing in Binghamton, N.Y. He was nice enough to get on the phone with me for a quick interview, and you can reread that here in a trip down memory lane.

“I’ve liked being with the Orioles, but now I’m going to the Red Sox. I thank these guys for all they did for me,” he said then.

Rodriguez had a big 2019 for Boston, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA and fanning 213 in 203 1/3 innings. He was third in the majors in wins, behind Justin Verlander (21) and Gerrit Cole (20), and finished sixth in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award.

In 2019, Rodriguez became the 12th Venezuelan-born pitcher to throw 200 or more innings in a season. At 26, he was the youngest to do so since Félix Hernández in 2012 for Seattle. Rodriguez is one of three Venezuelan-born pitchers with 19 or more wins in a season, joining Johan Santana (20 in 2004, 19 in 2006) and Hernández (19 in 2009).

Rodriguez is 40-2 with a 3.22 ERA when receiving at least four runs of support. The Red Sox are 52-7 (.881) in those games, including 35-2 (.946) going back to September of 2017.

He led the majors in winning percentage in games started for his team over the two season span of 2018-2019. Boston went 45-12 in those games and his .789 topped Cole at .769. Boston is 79-43 (.648) all-time in Rodriguez’s starts.

The Red Sox have won each of his last seven starts against the Orioles. And, since the start of 2018, Rodriguez is 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA in nine games (seven starts) versus the Orioles.

AL team leaders batting versus lefty pitching:

.392 - Houston
.354 - Orioles
.350 - New York Mets
.345 - Washington

With just one error thus far, the Orioles are tied with Kansas City for the AL low. Boston has made just two errors, none in the last four games.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins has begun his season with 12 hits in 25 at-bats (.480) and that is tied for the second-most hits in the majors. He has a 10-game hitting streak dating to last year. Mullins has led off each game, going 4-for-6 in his first at-bats of the game. He is 8-for-12 when leading off any inning. Mullins has gone 4-for-7 (.571) against left-handed pitching.

Boston lost its first three games to the Orioles. In those losses, the Red Sox scored five runs and hit .160 with a .448 OPS. In their last three games, all wins against Tampa Bay, they scored 26 runs and hit .339 with a .903 OPS. The Sox recorded at least 10 hits in each of their games against the Rays.

Red Sox pitchers have not allowed a homer yet in 2021. That covers 57 innings and 245 batters faced. They are only the third team since 2000 to allow zero homers in their first six games, joining the 2015 Tigers and 2002 Giants. The last teams with longer streaks to begin a season were the 1997 Braves (first eight games) 1993 Braves (first seven games).

The O’s have gone 44-23 in home openers in club history. They are looking to snap a two-game skid in home openers, having fallen to the Yankees in each of the last two years. The last time the Orioles took on the Red Sox in a home opener was in 2014, when they defeated the Sox 2-1.

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