Red Sox Will Move Closer to Clinching American League East, Damage Orioles’ Playoff Chances with Sweep

by NESN Staff

September 17, 2013

Mike CarpBoston continues its final homestand of the regular season, heading into a three-game set against the desperate Baltimore Orioles with the magic number for clinching the American League East down to four. The Sox will be set around -175 series favorites by Bovada oddsmakers.

The Orioles have some work to do to reach the postseason for the second year in a row. They enter this week 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot. Baltimore suffered a crushing series loss at home to the Yankees to start last week, but then went on to take two of three from the Blue Jays in Toronto. Following this series, the Orioles have a huge four-game set at Tampa Bay before they close the season at home against the Blue Jays and Red Sox — Boston could have nothing to play for by then if they lock up the top seed in the AL.

The Red Sox’ impressive sweep of the Yankees has jumped Boston into a tie with the Tigers as the AL pennant favorites at 9-4 with both also 5-1 odds to win the World Series behind the Dodgers (7-2).

Baltimore star Chris Davis hit his 50th home run of the season in Friday’s win over the Jays, becoming the first big-league player to reach 50 since 2010. Davis’ next homer will set a franchise record as he’s currently tied with Brady Anderson (1996) for the Orioles’ mark. Barring a huge final two weeks by the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who isn’t 100 percent healthy, Davis is going to win the home-run title and prevent Cabrera from a historic second-straight Triple Crown. Davis is hitting .250 with five home runs and 11 RBIs off Boston pitching in 2013. He’s also struck out 21 times in 48 at-bats.

The Orioles start Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.62) on Tuesday, with Boston a -138 favorite behind Ryan Dempster. Feldman has had three straight quality starts, but the Orioles have lost two of them. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start since Aug. 3. Feldman has faced the Sox once, on July 27, and allowed four runs in five innings. A Mike Napoli hitting prop could be smart as Napoli is batting .423 with two homers in his career off Feldman. David Ortiz has two homers in seven at-bats against him.

On Wednesday it’s Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.99) for the Orioles. He hasn’t won any of his past four starts, allowing 18 runs in 20 innings. Chen’s worst outing of the season was Aug. 27 in Boston when he allowed eight runs and eight hits in just 3 2/3 innings. Both Shane Victorino and Napoli went yard off of Chen, who has an ERA of 9.90 in two starts against Boston this year.

Thursday’s finale features Orioles ace Chris Tillman. He has alternated wins and losses in his past four starts. That started with a 3-2 victory at Fenway Park on Aug. 29. He allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. Tillman is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four starts this year against Boston. Victorino is the only Red Sox to have ever homered off Tillman.

Baltimore leads the season series 7-6 and is 3-3 at Fenway this year.

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