Red Sox Take on Orioles at Friendly Camden Yards

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Red Sox Take on Orioles at Friendly Camden Yards The Red Sox have always performed well at home, but Oriole Park at Camden Yards has become a second home of sorts — the Sox have made the Orioles into their own private punching bags at the so-called "Fenway South."

That trend continued Friday night in the teams' series opener, as John Smoltz got his second win in a Sox uniform, a 6-5 victory bolstered by yet another David Ortiz home run. If the Sox have been hurt by the off-the-field storyline of Papi's checkered past, they're not showing it — Papi keeps hitting and the Sox keep winning. Also, being in Baltimore couldn't hurt.

When and Where
7:05 p.m. ET (NESN), August 1, 2009
Camden Yards, Baltimore, Md.

Records
Red Sox (60-42, 2nd place in AL East)
Orioles (44-58, 5th place in AL East)

Skinny
The Orioles are an agonizing 4-10 since the All-Star break — they continue to give more time to the young guns rising through their system, and while that may revitalize the Baltimore franchise in the long-run, it's bringing them short-term misery. Guys like Matt Wieters and Jason Berken might be the future, but they're looking like busts at the moment. The Orioles lost five out of six in a road trip to Boston and New York last week, and they've been equally ineffective since returning home Monday.

Starting Lineups

Red Sox
Orioles
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Brian Roberts, 2B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Adam Jones, CF
Victor Martinez, 1B Nick Markakis, RF
Kevin Youkilis, 3B Aubrey  Huff, 1B
David Ortiz, DH Nolan Reimold, LF   
Jason Bay, LF Luke Scott, DH
Jason Varitek, C Melvin Mora, 3B
Josh Reddick, RF Matt Wieters, C
Jed Lowrie, SS Cesar Izturis, SS

Pitching Matchup
RHP Josh Beckett (12-4, 3.44 ERA) vs. RHP David Hernandez (3-2, 3.20 ERA)

Josh Beckett is still one of the best pitchers in the American League, but he's not always a sure thing. In his two starts since the All-Star break, the hard-throwing righty has allowed seven runs in 15 innings, a far cry from the dominating May that put him back among the AL's best. He's 1-1 in the two starts, beating the A's on Monday but losing last week in Texas.

The power's still there, though — Beckett is striking men out with ease, and he's not being hit hard, either. Maybe the defense behind Beckett can pick him up a little as the Sox take on these Orioles.

At the plate, the Red Sox will be itching to exact revenge on the rookie hurler Hernandez. Hernandez put in a stellar day of work against the Sox last Sunday, carrying a perfect game into the fourth inning and a shutout into the fifth. The 24-year-old allowed five hits and zero walks in the Baltimore win. The righty went undefeated in July, earning two wins and two no-decisions.

Stat Sheet
Red Sox

The Red Sox have a run differential of plus-84, best in the American League.

They are 25-25 on the road this season.

Josh Beckett has struck out 127 batters this season and walked just 37.

Kevin Youkilis' on-base percentage of .408 is fourth in the AL.

Dustin Pedroia is third in the AL with 31 doubles.

Jacoby Ellsbury is sixth in the AL with five triples.

Jason Bay has 20 home runs this season, but he still hasn't gone deep for the Red Sox since July 7.

David Ortiz has homered in back-to-back games since news broke of his positive steroid test in 2003.

J.D. Drew has a .472 career on-base percentage against the Orioles.

Mike Lowell has a .381 career OBP against them. He has 52 RBIs in 61 games.

Jed Lowrie is still way below the Mendoza Line this season, hitting .122 through his first 14 games.

Casey Kotchman
is a .272 career hitter in six seasons with the Angels and Braves. His best season came in 2007, when he posted an .840 OPS with 11 home runs in 443 at-bats.

Orioles
The Orioles are 28-24 at Camden Yards this season. All five AL East teams have winning records at home.

David Hernandez has walked 15 batters and struck out only 23 in 45 innings this season.

Nick Markakis has 44 extra-base hits this season.

Melvin Mora is slugging just .331 this season. He has three home runs and 12 doubles.

Luke Scott leads the Orioles with an .884 OPS.

Matt Wieters is 39-for-143 (.273) since being called up to the majors from Triple-A.

Ty Wigginton is a career .364 hitter against Josh Beckett. He has homered three times in 22 at-bats.

Cesar Izturis is 1-for-8 in his career against Beckett, with a single and two walks.

Black and Blue
Red Sox

Daisuke Matsuzaka, missing in action since June 20 with a mild right shoulder strain, criticized the Red Sox this week for their handling of his rehabilitation. Manager Terry Francona cleared the air before Wednesday's game, saying the two "had a good talk" and are now on the same page again.

Tim Wakefield has been out since July 18 with a strained lower back.

Jeff Bailey suffered a high ankle sprain during a play at first base in early July; he has been on the DL since July 5. He hopes to return in the next couple of weeks.

Orioles
The Orioles placed Rich Hill on the 15-day DL after his disastrous start against Kansas City on Monday. The lefty was forced to leave in the third inning with inflammation in his left shoulder.

Alfredo Simon was placed on the 60-day DL on April 15. He has undergone right elbow surgery and is out for the season.

Koji Uehara was placed on the 15-day DL on June 24 with right elbow tendinitis.

This Date in Red Sox History
In 1973, a bench-clearing brawl erupted in the ninth inning of a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park. With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth, the Yankees' Thurman Munson barreled over Fisk in a close play at home plate — tensions boiled over and a 10-minute-long scuffle ensued. Both catchers were ejected. In the bottom of the inning, the Sox walked off with a 3-2 win.

Overheard
"We engaged, in previous days, we had some things working, things we were really excited about, and a couple that got really close, but didn’t happen. That’s par for the course in deadline season. We shot big on a couple things, a deal that could provide maximum impact. We were very aggressive in use of our own prospects, those deals got close . . . Maybe the foundation is laid for the offseason."
–GM Theo Epstein in Saturday's Globe. Epstein pulled off two big trades on Friday, landing Victor Martinez from the Indians and Casey Kotchman from the Braves.

The Press Box
Red Sox

The Red Sox pulled it off.

Ellsbury does it all.

Papi will hear from the players' union.

Orioles
The O's stood pat.

Brian Bergesen hits the DL.

No more closer in Baltimore.

MLB
Doc's sticking around in Toronto.

Cliff Lee's loving the NL already.

The White Sox are taking a gamble.

Outlook
It's hard to bet against the Red Sox when they take on these Orioles, and it's even harder when the Sox have Beckett on the mound. Beckett, like most of the Red Sox' staff, has owned the Orioles throughout his career, and meanwhile, the Sox have a habit of feasting on inexperienced starting pitchers (last Sunday against Hernandez notwithstanding). It seems like the perfect matchup for these Red Sox — not that they'd need it, what with the friendly fans at Fenway South on their side. This should be a good weekend for the Sox.

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