Before losing two of three to the Red Sox over the weekend, the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers hadn’t lost a series since mid-June, going 14-0-4 in series over that stretch to become World Series favorites. That unbeaten streak was a team record and the longest in a season by any team since the 2002 Braves went undefeated in 22 straight series.
To be fair to Dodgers backers, they did face the Red Sox without their two best pitchers, Clayton Kershaw, the likely NL Cy Young winner, and Zack Greinke. Boston’s rotation was set up perfectly for the series with John Lackey, Jon Lester and Jake Peavy, who pitches well at Dodger Stadium. The Sox did win despite playing without David Ortiz in the final two games.
Now Boston has to avoid a potential letdown as it opens a three-game series with the Orioles on Tuesday night. The Sox will be around -165 series favorites. The Birds enter this week two games out of the second wild card spot. They just took two of three at home in a big series with Oakland but are 16-16 since the break. Baltimore was swept in its last road series at Arizona.
Chris Davis continues to lead the majors with 46 home runs and is hitting .273 with nine homers since the break. His 118 RBIs are already 33 more than his previous career best. Davis is hitting .250 with four homers and eight RBIs this year against Boston, also striking out 18 times in 36 at-bats. Manny Machado has tormented Boston pitching, hitting .364 with two homers. Adam Jones is batting .349 with three homers and nine RBIs. Matt Wieters is batting only .132.
The Orioles are scheduled to start Wei-Yin Chen (7-6, 3.19) on Tuesday, and Boston will open around a -135 betting favorite. Chen ended a three-start losing streak last time out, allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings against Tampa Bay. The lefty pitched at Fenway on April 8, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings of a 3-1 loss. Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-10 in his career against Chen. Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes each have a homer off him.
On Wednesday, Bud Norris (3-1, 5.53) takes the mound, and the game will feature Live Betting. He had been solid since arriving in a trade from Houston but was rocked for seven runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings by Oakland in his last start. Norris faced the Sox on April 28 at Fenway while with the Astros, allowing five runs on nine hits over six innings. Stephen Drew is 6-for-12 with three RBIs in his career against Norris. David Ross has a homer in three at-bats.
Thursday’s game also will have Live Betting, and the Orioles start their ace, right-hander Chris Tillman (14-4, 3.66). He hasn’t won since Aug. 2, although he’s suffered from a lack of run support. Tillman has allowed only eight earned runs over his past four starts. He has been excellent against Boston this year, going 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA in three starts. No Red Sox player has homered off him.