The Baltimore Orioles will celebrate their 2021 home opener Thursday when they host the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park.
The two AL East rivals have already played once this season, with Baltimore sweeping the three-game series in Boston and outscoring the Red Sox 18-5.
The Red Sox have not lost since, coming into this series with a sweep of Tampa Bay.
Baltimore went to New York and dropped the first two games before beating the Yankees 4-3 in 11 innings on Wednesday night.
Boston will welcome back lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who missed all of the 2020 season after contracting COVID-19, which resulted in myocarditis.
Rodriguez, who turned 28 on Wednesday, started the season on the 10-day injured list after dealing with elbow inflammation (otherwise known as “dead arm”) at the end of spring training.
Boston manager Alex Cora said Rodriguez really wanted to pitch against Tampa Bay on his birthday, but that wasn’t possible.
“Good for him,” Cora said, “but no.”
Rodriguez made four starts in spring training and went 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA, striking out 15 in 13 2/3 innings.
Boston has won each of Rodriguez’s last seven starts against the Orioles.
Since the start of 2018, he is 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA in nine games (seven starts) against Baltimore.
Despite coming off the IR, Rodriguez will not be on a pitch count Thursday.
“We’ll take care of him, but there’s not a hard number we have,” Cora said. “We do believe he’s ready to go deep into the game. So that’s the most important thing.”
Baltimore will counter with right-hander Matt Harvey, who has already faced the Red Sox.
On April 3, Harvey made the start against Boston and went 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts.
He did not factor into the decision.
Oddly enough, Harvey had never faced the Red Sox in his career — he grew up 90 minutes from Fenway in New London, Conn. — before last week; now he faces them twice in six days.
This is also Harvey’s first start at Camden Yards as a member of the Orioles and only his second career start there. The first came as a member of the Angels in 2019.
“I think every game you kind of get butterflies to some degree,” Harvey said on Wednesday. “It’s exciting. It’s a big-league game. It’s a big-league ballpark, and that never gets old. It only intensifies when it’s the home opener. It’s exciting and I am honored to get the ball.”
The Orioles announced that pregame festivities for the home opener will begin at 2:30 p.m. EDT with a ‘Welcome Back Video’ as fans are allowed back at Camden Yards for the first time since 2019.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott and United States Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh will throw a joint ceremonial first pitch.
Zadia, a musician born and raised in west Baltimore, will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
To make room for Rodriguez on the roster, the Red Sox sent right-hander Tanner Houck to the alternate training site.
Houck, 24, made his first Opening Day roster and started Boston’s second game of the season April 3 against Baltimore. He allowed three runs (two earned) over five innings in a 4-2 loss.
He also pitched an inning of relief Tuesday against Tampa Bay, striking out two and allowing an unearned run in the 11th.
Drafted in the first round by Boston in 2017, Houck is 3-1 with a 1.17 ERA (3 ER/23.0 IP) in five career major league appearances with four starts.
–Field Level Media