Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, September 27

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, September 27

Larry Ness

Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Pick: Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are two games ahead of Oakland for the league's best record, as they open this three-game series in Baltimore on Friday night. Meanwhile, the A’s wrap up their season with three games in Seattle. The Red Sox will be content to earn the top seed overall but after going 69-83 last year, the fact that a three-game sweep of the Orioles would match the fourth-best record in franchise history (1978), has to be tempting. However, that’s just fluff. The task at hand is to win tonight, then take Saturday’s and Sunday’s games as they come (depending on how the A’s do in Seattle).

The Red Sox have to like their chances tonight, with Clay Buchholz on the mound. He comes in 11-1 with a 1.60 ERA on the season, limited to just 15 starts because a strained neck kept him out for more than three months. Boston is 13-2 in games Buchholz starts, giving him MLB’s 8th-best moneyline mark of plus-$1,030. Buchholz seems to be finding his form, as his pitch counts have increased steadily from 74 to 91 to 106 since returning to the mound on September 10. He’s allowed just 11 hits and two ERs over three starts (17 innings), posting a 2-1 record with a 1.06 ERA.

Buchholz has been quite remarkable in his six road starts in 2013, allowing just 22 hits over 38 innings with a 35-13 KW raio and an 0.95 ERA (he’s 5-0 and the Red Sox 6-0). It’s also worth noting that Buchholz is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA over his last three starts against Baltimore, including seven scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory on April 8.

Scott Feldman gets the nod for Baltimore. The Orioles added him (acquired from the Cubs) prior to the trade deadline and he’s 5-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 14 starts with the Orioles (team is 7-7). However, the team can’t have too many complaints about his efforts down the stretch, as Feldman is looking for his NINTH straight start allowing three ERs or less. However, Baltimore is just 4-4 in his last eight starts, as a lack of run support has prevented Feldman from earning a couple of more wins. That’s the problem he faces again tonight, up against Buchholz. Boston wins, then does some “scoreboard watching” out in Seattle, where Bartolo Colon faces “King Felix.” The Red Sox will be rooting for “the King.”

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