The last time we saw the Orioles they were still baseball's most unlikely first-place team. This was way back on, err, May 23, as the Sox finished taking two of three games down in Fenway South.
Since then, the Orioles (aka the Buffalo Bills of the AL East) have done what the Orioles always do come crashing down to Earth. They've lost seven of their last nine games since breaking with the Sox and 10 of 13 overall. Needless to say, they're no longer in first place (although they're miraculously only one game back) and over the next three days will face the series that may come to determine the course of the rest of their season.
If the Orioles get trounced by the Sox and are delivered another cold reminder of their proper place in the division, I don't think anyone will be surprised to see things unravel and watch Baltimore free fall to their fifth consecutive last place finish.
If they come to Fenway and put a beating on the Sox (who've won six of 10 since that series at Camden, and 10 of their last 15 games)? Then well, they'll still probably finish in last place. Just with a little more dignity. In this scenario, we'll maybe see the Orioles stay afloat a little longer and continue building the confidence that you can only imagine at some point will finally help them get over the AL East hump.
Or not. And tonight, it's definitely not.
That's because tonight at Fenway, Baltimore faces the Red Sox answer to Jamie Lannister Jon Lester, the Orioles Slayer, who's never lost to the O's in 19 career starts. In all, JL sports a 14-0 record with a 2.47 ERA, only 99 strikeouts and only 43 walks against Baltimore. Absolutely ridiculous.
Some might say Lester's due to drop one to Baltimore, but some could have been saying that for years now. Why will this time be any different?