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So, is this actually a big series against the Orioles, or what?


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#1 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:30 AM

Depending on your perspective, it's either been a long time since there was a big series against the Orioles or there was a huge series against the Orioles as recently as, oh, September 2011, and the Sox just decided not to show up for it.

Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, could we go so far as to say the upcoming three-gamer is "big?" Bobby V showed an inclination to make some games more important than others when he switched to playoff mode for the second game of the Rays series. Will we see similar tactics and approach in Baltimore? Should we?

Reasons it's big and the Sox need to let it all hang out:
1. The Sox are 6.5 games out, and the season isn't necessarily all that young anymore. We just hit the quarter pole and the Sox need to pick up more than a game every 20 here on out if they want to take the division (assuming no one else gets in their way, which will probably happen).

2. The Orioles are riding high following their squashing of the Sox' playoff dreams last year and the early season sweep where they outscored the Sox 23-12 and basically made them their bitches. A sweep back might take the air out of their sails and send them spiraling to the depths wherein they belong.

3. This concludes the 20-in-20 stretch, and the Thursday off day means the bullpen can be taxed a bit if Bobby wants to go for the throat playing matchups.

4. The Orioles starters line up to be pretty vulnerable. Tommy Hunter has given up 10 homers already, and Camden Yards plays small as it is. Matusz gives up hits like candy on Halloween and is rocking a 5.36 ERA. Arrieta is striking people out, but is young and can be rattled and certainly isn't anything special. With the Orioles bullpen, if the Sox get up, they need to stay up and be aggressive with the bullpen to hold onto the lead.

Reasons it's no big deal and the Sox should play for the long haul:
1. It's the Orioles and it's been 40 games. We've seen this flash in the pan before and there's no way this lasts. Better to worry about the Yanks and Rays and make sure you don't take any unnecessary gambles. If Lin needs to play some centerfield and Buchholz needs to be given some rope to figure stuff out, go ahead.

2. The Sox aren't exactly throwing out their big guns. With Buch, Doubront, and Bard, you're crossing your fingers and basically praying for rain anyway. No sense putting undue pressure on these guys. If they give you five innings and three runs, you're happy and you see what Albers or Padilla can give you for a couple innings.

3. One game at a time, folks. Don't worry about series or opponent, just focus on the day at hand and the former sons of Tito will be alright.

What say you: How does Bobby approach this series and how should he approach this series?

#2 Andrew


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 09:35 AM

They need to try to win every game they play, no matter who it is against.

#3 OttoC


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 10:10 AM

The Red Sox are currently at 20 and 21, which means they need to win 75 of their remaining 121 games to reach the 95-win plateau, or play .6198 ball for the rest of the season. After the Baltimore series, they will have 118 games remaining. If they go:

0 and 3, then they have to play .6356 ball for the rest of the season (equivalent to a 103-win season)
1 and 2, then they have to play .6271 ball for the rest of the season (equivalent to a 101.6-win season)
2 and 1, then they have to play .6186 ball for the rest of the season (equivalent to a 100.2-win season)
3 and 0, then they have to play .6017 ball for the rest of the season (equivalent to a 97.5-win season).

Given that the second-place clubs in the Central and West divisions of the AL are both playing .500 ball right now, it may not take 95 wins to get a wild card spot (third-place Toronto is playing a tn 88.7-win pace). To get to an 89-win pace, the Red Sox need to win 69 of their remaining 121 games (.5702); getting swept by the Orioles would raise that percentage to .5847.

The importance of this upcoming series depends of how many wins you think the Red Sox need for the season.

#4 Buzzkill Pauley


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 10:27 AM

3. One game at a time, folks. Don't worry about series or opponent, just focus on the day at hand.


This is it -- it's far, far too early to consider anything "must win" regardless of the opponent. A month from now is still too early.

That being said, for tonight's game they should issue helmets to fans in the cheap seats, to prevent injury. Buchholz and Hunter are currently tied for MLB's 3rd-most homeruns allowed.

#5 MikeM

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:09 AM

The whole 95 win plateau thing became obsolete with the addition of a 2nd Wild Card Team, leaving 90 wins as the new 95. Or at least if there's going to be an AL team that wins 90 games and find themselves outside the post-162nd game playoff picture, it'll be the first time it's ever happened (under the new format) since the split to 3 divisions in 1994.

The 2nd WC spot really is that much of a game changer, imo. So while winning any game is obviously big, i wouldn't necessarily label this series in itself as such. In fact, i essentially can't see any one series being *big* until much latter on. Get/stay healthy, hit the break floating at or preferable above the .500 mark, and let's see where the #'s project to crunch out to from there.

#6 TheoShmeo


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:27 AM

I think it's important that the Sox continue to pitch well and not immediately give back the gains they've made over the last ten games. I also think it would be nice to begin the process of bringing the Orioles back to earth.

And after last September and the sweep a few weeks ago, the Orioles can't suffer enough for my tastes.

Still, it's early. Each game counts equally and they all can make a big difference, but it's tough to say that a series carries extra meaning at the one quarter mark of the marathon.

#7 wade boggs chicken dinner


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:42 AM

The whole 95 win plateau thing became obsolete with the addition of a 2nd Wild Card Team, leaving 90 wins as the new 95. Or at least if there's going to be an AL team that wins 90 games and find themselves outside the post-162nd game playoff picture, it'll be the first time it's ever happened (under the new format) since the split to 3 divisions in 1994.

The Red Sox are 2.5 games out of the WC. With the exception of MN, every team in the AL is within 7 games of a playoff spot. It would be great not to get swept here - but no, this is not a big series.

If the Red Sox can keep getting 4 quality starts every five days, they should be in very good shape IMO. I wonder what are the current Vegas odds of the Red Sox going to the playoffs? Seems like that should be a pretty decent bet.

#8 Bergs

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:43 AM

Get/stay healthy, hit the break floating at or preferable above the .500 mark, and let's see where the #'s project to crunch out to from there.


The Red Sox are currently 1 game under .500 (20-21). Between now and the All-Star break, we play 45 games, 19 of which are against AL East opponents, all 4 of whom are ahead of us in the standings as of this morning. If we are only "floating at the .500 mark" after these 45 games, I'd say we're pretty much fucked.

#9 Pumpsie


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:45 AM

We're currently 2 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot with 121 games to go. So, we're not anywhere near a "must-win" situation.

However, they're on a nice roll right now because and testing themselves against the division leader by winning this series is a good goal to have. Plus, the Orioles are getting to be more annoying than the Yankees and Rays. So, there's that as well. I see them continuing in this "win this game right here" mode and I approve of it.

#10 Rasputin


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 01:25 PM

It's about as big as a series can get considering how many games have been played and where everyone expects the Orioles to end up.

#11 mauidano


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 01:47 PM

"One game at a time." "They're all important." All the cliches apply when you're in last place. Remember, we lost the LAST game of the season and failed to make the playoffs because of that. We have a chance to make gains against a first place team in our division. So yes, it's a bit more important. Revenge is always a motivating factor in sports. This is the team that gloated as they knocked us out of the playoffs on their home field. It's important to remember and send a message. Sweep is the goal.

#12 dwainw

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 01:56 PM

And after last September and the sweep a few weeks ago, the Orioles can't suffer enough for my tastes.


Plus, the Orioles are getting to be more annoying than the Yankees and Rays.


Interesting to see the hate starting to build against them, though, isn't it? I would love to see the Orioles hang in the race as long as possible. This has the makings of a great "new" rivalry. I mean, throughout all the great history and relatively close proximity of each of these teams, have they ever really competed directly with each other for the division for any meaningful amount of time? I'm a bit young to remember most of the 70's and early 80's, but didn't Baltimore and Boston kind of alternate their best years and not directly butt heads through that period?

Anyway, I agree that on paper this series isn't any bigger than any others at this point, but if Baltimore's success continues, I'd think Oriole fans would start to re-take "Boston South," generating a building cycle of excitement to feed the rivalry. Heck, it's kind of refreshing to direct my hate away from the Yankees for a while.* And I'm quite sure the rest of the country would gladly accept something other than the annoying Red Sox/Yankee hype that goes on year after year.

*Ahh, who am I kidding, nothing will ever diminish my hate for those neandertahlic, devil-loving, child-abducting, foul-smelling douchefaces, but it is nice to have a diversion.

#13 OttoC


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 01:58 PM

We're currently 2 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot with 121 games to go....


If the Red Sox don't improve on their current .488 winning percentage, they most probably will be more than 2.5 games out of the wild card spot.

#14 MikeM

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 02:22 PM

The Red Sox are currently 1 game under .500 (20-21). Between now and the All-Star break, we play 45 games, 19 of which are against AL East opponents, all 4 of whom are ahead of us in the standings as of this morning. If we are only "floating at the .500 mark" after these 45 games, I'd say we're pretty much fucked.


Fucked out of a reasonable chance at winning this division? Maybe, assuming one felt this team had a realistic chance there to begin with (i don't btw).

Point being that in the end, it's not the outdated 95 win total or some hypothetical scenario that's never actually happened dictating our potential playoff hopes here. Heck, even in the event Tampa and whatever one other team in the AL East was to run away from us, we still don't *need* a great divisional record to get us to where we (minimally) want to be. If history is a worthy indicator, here's the wins list of every team that would have qualified for that second playoff spot since 1996:

1996 - 85
1997 - 84
1998 - 88
1999 - 87
2000 - 90
2001 - 85
2002 - 93 (2 team playoff game tiebreaker, with runner up to that winning 81)
2003 - 93 (runner up - 86)
2004 - 91 (runner up - 89)
2005 - 93 (runner up - 88)
2006 - 89
2007 - 88
2008 - 89
2009 - 87
2010 - 89
2011 - 90

Which seemingly concludes a 90 win plateau as the new virtual playoff lock, while even then ( and outside that 02-05 stretch) presenting a strong possibility of still being there in the event you fall a tad short. It may not come pretty, and it's arguably cheapening the sytstem at it's core, but that's the real reality we face atm. Warts and all, i'm still fairly confident this team is capable of being there when the dust clears. Might suffer the one game heart breaker, or get bounced out in the first multi-game round...but yeah. How much easier the potential road in getting to that point has become can't be overstated enough, imo. Again, it's simply a huge game changer.

#15 aron7awol

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 02:50 PM

If the Red Sox can keep getting 4 quality starts every five days, they should be in very good shape IMO. I wonder what are the current Vegas odds of the Red Sox going to the playoffs? Seems like that should be a pretty decent bet.


I don't have playoff odds, but I do have the odds to win the AL at 10 to 1. Still probably a decent bet. Interestingly, the Angels are only 8.5 to 1.

#16 PrometheusWakefield


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:00 PM

Big because we're slowly, quietly pulling ourselves out of a dismal start to the year and we actually seem to have a little momentum and at some point, we need to take momentum and turn it into a sustained tear if we're going to actually be competitive this year? Maybe.

Big because it's Baltimore? Hell no.

#17 twothousandone

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:21 PM

the Thursday off day means the bullpen can be taxed a bit if Bobby wants to go for the throat playing matchups.

unless there are a lot of extra innings, or two starters get knocked out in the third, I think this is the key factor. How does the bullpen get taxed in three days? Aceves has off tonight. Maybe Padilla, as well. They're ready again for Tues & Wed. night.

#18 reggiecleveland


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:38 PM

They need to get to .500. That is a psychological barrier they have yet to break.

#19 Pumpsie


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 03:52 PM

If the Red Sox don't improve on their current .488 winning percentage, they most probably will be more than 2.5 games out of the wild card spot.


True, and if they stay on their current .800 winning percentage of their past 10 games, they won't have to worry about the wild card spot then either.

#20 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:04 PM

I know baseball and football are about as different as competitive sports get, but I tend to put a lot of stock in the old Parcells quote that if you give a team an excuse to lose, they'll take it. For a while, it seemed like Baltimore knew they weren't supposed to win and would just roll right over for us, and this was a big factor in the Sox' success.

2007 - 96-66 overall, 12-6 against Baltimore
2008 - 95-67 overall, 12-6 against Baltimore
2009 - 95-67 overall, 16-2 against Baltimore (!)
2010 - 89-73 overall, 9-9 against Baltimore
2011 - 90-72 overall, 10-8 against Baltimre

If you normalize all of those seasons so that the Sox are 9-9 against Baltimore you get:

2007 - 93-69
2008 - 92-70
2009 - 88-74
2010 - 89-73
2011 - 89-73

Now, I'm sure you could do this against basically all of the AL east teams and get somewhat similar pictures, but it's interesting to see how those teams all look really similar if you normalize results against Baltimore. Are the Orioles some kind of bellwether for the Sox? I'm not saying that. But since Baltimore has started putting up a fight, the Sox have had a tough time making the playoffs.

Of course, you could also turn it around to say that since the Sox stopped being able to beat up on Baltimore because they were fielding an inferior team, they've had a tough time making the playoffs.

All of this is to say I'm leaning toward this being a big series for the Sox, both because of their recent turnaround that needs to continue and because it's Baltimore. Baltimore needs to be put back in their place.

#21 cwright

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:55 PM

I don't have playoff odds, but I do have the odds to win the AL at 10 to 1. Still probably a decent bet. Interestingly, the Angels are only 8.5 to 1.


According to BP, the Sox are currently at 40.2% odds to make the playoffs (division 12.6%, wildcard 27.6%).
AL East odds:
NYY 75.2%
TB 70.5%
BOS 40.2%
BAL 28.0%
TOR 11.8%
So they don't particularly believe in the O's either.

#22 OttoC


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:01 PM

True, and if they stay on their current .800 winning percentage of their past 10 games, they won't have to worry about the wild card spot then either.


And you think n=10 is a more dependable sample size than n=41?

#23 Gene Conleys Plane Ticket

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:13 PM

If the Red Sox don't improve on their current .488 winning percentage, they most probably will be more than 2.5 games out of the wild card spot.


But that's easy. A win tonight will improve on their winning percentage by 12 points.

#24 dbn

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:29 PM

Wins by the ALE champ the past ten years: 97, 96, 103, 97 96, 97, 95, 101, 103, 95. If you believe (as I do) that there are no truly bad teams in the ALE this year, we may see a sub-95 win ALE champ this year do to the increased parity.

[Thus far this post contains neither matter to do with the Orioles series nor a tautology, so: it would be better to beat them than to not, and the Red Sox may or may not make the playoffs if they don't.]

Edited by dbn, 21 May 2012 - 05:30 PM.


#25 Eric Van


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Posted 21 May 2012 - 10:54 PM

Not bad beginning with the best comeback of the season, in terms of Win Expectancy. They were down to .118 in the middle of the 5th.

It was also the first time in nearly a month that the team that got to .750 first didn't win (the Sox came back from .142 in the 7th in Minnesota on 4/23, the game that Ross hit the tying and winning homers). That's a very long stretch of ball without either team making any kind of significant comeback.

#26 Harry Hooper


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Posted 23 May 2012 - 03:12 PM

Two out of three, back to .500, keep a-goin'.