Nobody thought this for either team, and now they are facing one another.
The Red Sox are off to their worst start since 1996 with a starting pitching ERA that has ballooned to the top of the AL at 5.63 entering Friday’s game.
The Orioles are off to their worst start since 1986. While they were not favored to vie for the division title, they were expected to make a run at .500, something that has not happened in the last 12 years.
The baseball gods seem to constantly get a kick out of confounding the baseball “experts.”
Who could guess the Sox would start at home with a .236 average? This is the yard of choice for the Sox, and surely will be — won’t it?
Boston has not won a game in which they scored three runs or less.
Sox catchers have thrown out 1 in 37. Texas, after their 9-for-9 in stolen bases the other night, has now stolen 34 consecutive bases vs. the Sox.
With 36 steals against entering last night, the Sox have surrendered the most thefts by any team in a 16-game period over the last 92 years.
The Orioles have scored the fewest runs in the AL, without a consistent hitter in the lineup.
Both teams have been without starters. The Sox with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron on the DL have had a complete reshuffling of the outfield and lineup.
The Orioles lost their platoon left fielder, Felix Pie, for three months, their third baseman Miguel Tejada returned last night after four games out with a bad groin, and second baseman Brian Roberts played for only the first week.
Something has to give in this series for one of the teams, or maybe the gods will just let both ride along in a carriage with three wheels for a while longer.
What both teams know is that New York and Tampa Bay are for real and off to good starts. Division titles cannot be won in April, but they can be lost.
That will make the decision on David Ortiz and the DH role a tougher one if the other bats in the Sox lineup don’t come alive.
The bats are what they are until Ellsbury and Cameron are back. That’s what makes the ineffectiveness of the starters that much more egregious. Boston needs the good starts because they know the runs are going to be hard to accumulate for a while.
Oriole pitchers have been hit at a .278 clip, the highest in the AL. Will that be the green light for Boston hitters?
The Orioles know all this and that their manager is on the hot seat. They need to jump on any team when it is down. The trouble for them is the Sox want that jump, too.
Boston went 16-2 against the Orioles last year.
It’s only April for both teams, but the concerns are real.