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?
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Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.
Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.
The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday.
Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.
The full lineups:
Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C
Yovanni Gallardo RHP
Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B
Eduardo Rodriguez LHP
BOSTON — Red Sox left-hander David Price is set to make his season debut in a holiday matinee Monday on the road in Chicago against the White Sox.
Price, 31, starting the second season of a $217 million, seven-year contract, has been recovering from a strained pitching elbow since spring training.
“Excited, just to be back here,” he said Thursday. “There’s not a better feeling. You can’t replicate it anywhere else.”
Price allowed nine runs — six earned — and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a pair of less-than-impressive injury rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out eight and walked two.
“A lot of pitches, in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six [innings] in 90 pitches,” he said. “To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy.”
The Red Sox (24-21) have won four in a row heading into their weekend series against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.
“He’s eager to get back to us and physically he feels great,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “His return to us will give us a definite boost but that’s not to de-emphasize he needs to go out and perform.”
Farrell hopes Price’s return has a trickle-down impact.
“It’s not based solely on the name on the back of his jersey,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation.”
© 2017 by The Associated Press.