The Red Sox' quest for their sixth playoff berth in seven years is heating up, and with the team closing in on another AL wild-card berth, there's nothing like the support of the home crowd to help them along. Baltimore may not be home, but it's close enough.
With their devoted Mid-Atlantic following behind them, the Red Sox open a three-game set with the Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday night.
7:05 p.m. ET (NESN), September 18, 2009
Camden Yards, Baltimore, Md.
Red Sox (86-59, 2nd place in AL East)
Orioles (60-86, 5th place in AL East)
The Red Sox may have lost their seven-game winning streak in the ninth inning of their series finale with the Angels, but Boston still is hot as wildfire this September. The Red Sox now hold a six-game lead over Texas in the wild-card race with 17 games to play — it appears to be time for the Sox to stamp their tickets to Southern California for the ALDS. A solid weekend against the Orioles would help solidify the Sox' playoff status.
|Felix Pie, CF||Jacoby Ellsbury, CF|
|Cesar Izturis, SS||Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Brian Roberts, 2B||Victor Martinez, C|
|Nick Markakis, RF||Kevin Youkilis, 3B|
|Melvin Mora, 3B||David Ortiz, DH|
|Matt Wieters, C||Jason Bay, LF|
|Luke Scott, DH||J.D. Drew, RF|
|Ty Wigginton, 1B||Casey Kotchman, 1B|
|Jeff Florentino, LF||Alex Gonzalez, SS|
RHP Clay Buchholz (5-3, 3.66 ERA) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-14, 5.06 ERA) Especially now, with Daisuke Matsuzaka back in the fold, every start for Clay Buchholz is a litmus test for his October readiness. The hard-throwing right-hander has allowed five runs in 28 1/3 innings, for an ERA of 1.60, in his last four starts, and he's starting to rein in the control problems that doomed him last season. A strong September is just what Buchholz needs to become an impact arm in October, and so far, he's on the right track.
As for Guthrie, the former first-round draft pick turned 30 earlier this season and still hasn't quite developed into the ace the Orioles wanted. His power numbers are lagging behind even worse than usual, as Guthrie has struck out just 99 batters this season, and he's getting pummelled to the tune of 30 home runs in 29 starts. Not an encouraging sign for the de facto No. 1 arm on the O's staff.
The Red Sox have a plus-126 run differential. In the American League, only the Yankees (plus-149) are better.
The Red Sox lead the AL with 310 doubles.
Clay Buchholz is 3-2 in five career starts against the Orioles. He has a 4.75 ERA and has struck out 26 batters in 30.1 innings.
Kevin Youkilis is hitting .314, ninth-best in the AL.
Jason Bay has a .532 slugging percentage, 10th in the AL.
Dustin Pedroia is fifth in the AL with 101 runs scored.
Jacoby Ellsbury is 57-for-168 (.339) in his career against the Orioles. He has 11 doubles.
Victor Martinez is 39-for-123 (.317) against them. He has five homers and 26 RBIs.
David Ortiz is 5-for-15 (.333) in his career against Jeremy Guthrie. He has four doubles and a walk.
Mike Lowell is 3-for-16 (.188) against Guthrie.
J.D. Drew has hit 12 of his 20 home runs away from Fenway Park.
Jason Varitek is 3-for-23 (.130) this September.
The Orioles are 36-39 at home this season.
Jeremy Guthrie has a 5-7 record at home this year. He has a 4.74 ERA in 89 1/3 innings at Camden Yards.
Nick Markakis has 175 hits, sixth in the AL.
Brian Roberts is sixth in the AL with 29 stolen bases.
Felix Pie is 7-for-38 (.184) in his career against the Red Sox. He has only two extra-base hits.
Nolan Reimold is 13-for-39 (.333) against them. He has a home run and three doubles.
Luke Scott is 0-for-7 in his career against Clay Buchholz. He has struck out three times and walked twice.
Melvin Mora has an .833 OPS at home this season.
Tim Wakefield hopes to pitch again this season without doing further damage to the fragmented disk in his back. He is eying a return to the mound on Monday in Kansas City.
Kevin Youkilis sat out the entire Angels series this week with back spasms. He remains day-to-day.
Miguel Gonzalez has been on the 60-day disabled list since March 27 as he recovers from right elbow surgery.
Adam Jones has a severely sprained left ankle. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since Sept. 2.
Rich Hill is on the 60-day DL with left shoulder inflammation. He has been out since July 28.
Brad Bergesen is also on the 60-day DL. He has been out since July 31 with a left leg contusion.
In 1996, Red Sox ace Roger Clemens struck out 20 Tigers in a 4-0 win for the Red Sox in Detroit. It was the second 20-strikeout performance of his career. A decade earlier, he struck out 20 Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on April 29, 1986.
"I was terrible. I couldn’t get the ball up, and they got some bunts down. It was all started by the walk. If the guy gets a single, so be it, but to give up a walk always comes back to hurt you."
—Billy Wagner, in the Boston Herald, on taking his first loss in a Red Sox uniform on Thursday night.
A win over the Angels was just out of reach.
The past is the past for Josh Beckett.
It was a tough walk to swallow for Billy Wagner.
The O's bats died against Tampa Bay.
Mark Hendrickson is here to stay.
Nick Markakis or Brian Roberts — who's the Most Valuable Oriole?
Cole Hamels carried the Phillies.
The end could be near for Chipper Jones.
Zack Greinke — Cy Young material?
The Sox are clicking this September, and there's no reason that should stop against Baltimore. The Sox just rattled off a seven-game winning streak, and they're headed to Baltimore to face an Orioles team that they've manhandled all season. The O's aren't quite as hot this month, going 6-8 since Sept. 1, and with Clay Buchholz on the mound, they might have some trouble coming up with early hits. Expect the Sox to have a good night.
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