By Michael Huberman
On Friday afternoon the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers sent shockwaves throughout baseball with their proposed mega-deal, with the Red Sox sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto and their contracts to Hollywood. In return, the Red Sox are expected to receive a package of five players and prospects along with a ton of payroll flexibility. The only hold-up is some important paperwork, but the nine-player blockbuster is expected to be completed on Saturday.
Last year's disastrous finish, highlighted by a loss in the final game of the season in Baltimore, was the beginning of the end for these Red Sox. The team is finally waving the white flag on their disappointing 2012 season, but can they play spoiler to the Orioles playoff quest?
The Orioles have six remaining games against the Red Sox, making the trip to Fenway from September 21-23, and hosting them at the end of the month from September 28-30. This year the O's have had the Red Sox number, winning 8 of 12 games. They've also scored more runs (63) against the Red Sox than they have against any other opponent this year.
In terms of the individuals moving teams, the hitters have always played well against the O's. For his career, Adrian Gonzalez has been an Orioles killer. Over 40 games, Gonzalez hit .386.448.532 against the Orioles, so the pitching staff is likely pleased to not have to deal with the slugging first baseman in the immediate future. While Crawford is out for the rest of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, he was also excellent against the Orioles, with a line of .304.347.471 over his career. Orioles' hitters, however, may miss Josh Beckett, as they beat him twice this year.
Facing a depleted Red Sox team for six more games is certainly a positive development for the Orioles, who after last night's win are currently tied with the Oakland A's for the second AL wild card. However, the stench of last year's collapse still hangs in Boston, and if the Orioles are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, one would have to think the Red Sox would like nothing else than to return to the favor against the O's.