10:02 p.m.: The 2012 Red Sox season has been reduced to celebrating defeats. Their loss to the Orioles hurts the Yankees and help Boston's draft position in 2013. At this point, losing benefits the Red Sox more than winning.
But this offseason, as the Red Sox work to get back to contending, they can take a page from the Orioles' book. The Birds have the 18th-highest payroll in baseball at just over $80 million. Dan Duquette has built a playoff contender for under nine figures, with a lot of one-year deals.
The Red Sox have money to spend. If they spend wisely, they will be back in the playoff race next September, instead of hunting for top-10 draft picks.
Final, Orioles 9-1: This game was over in the first inning. The Orioles are playing like a club on a mission. The Red Sox are playing like a club on a mission to get to Club Med.
Chris Tillman delivers a gem and picks up his ninth win this season and 16th career victory. The 24-year-old right-hander from Anaheim, who has a $417,000 salary this year, could make a name for himself this October and earn himself a big raise.
Aaron Cook takes his 11th loss of the season.
Ryan Flaherty, the pride of Portland, Maine, is the player of the game after going 2-for-4 with a double, home run, five RBIs and two runs scored.
Only five more games for the 2012 Red Sox. If they were a racehorse, they already would have been put down.
Game 158 is Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Steve Johnson gets the call for Baltimore. Felix Doubront takes the hill for Boston.
9:29 p.m.: Hardy makes a great play in the hole to throw out Iglesias. The Orioles' shortstop has made only six errors this season. Baltimore doesn't have many holes on its team.
9:28 p.m.: Tillman will have to wait for his first complete game. Troy Patton is pitching the ninth.
Final line for Tillman: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, 100 pitches, 68 strikes. With more outings like this, the right-hander will be adding plenty of CGs to the back of his baseball card.
End 8th, Orioles 9-1: Hallelujah. Bard finishes the inning unscathed. He throws 19 pitches, 11 strikes, and walks one. That's a positive step for the right-hander.
9:24 p.m.: Homer Bailey has a no-hitter through eight innings against the Pirates.
9:18 p.m.: Daniel Bard relieves Beato. Fasten your seat belt.
Beato did a nice job. His line: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K, 25 pitches, 16 strikes.
Mid 8th, Orioles 9-1: Another 1-2-3 inning from Tillman. That's 14 Red Sox batters in a row retired by the right-hander. Red Sox still have only one hit, a leadoff bunt by Podsednik in the first inning. Tillman's start has been as good as Cook's was bad.
End 7th, Orioles 9-1: Pedro Beato shuts down the Birds.
9:07 p.m.: The crowd at Camden is growing. The NFL has provided replacement refs to protect the goal posts in case Orioles fans choose to rush the field.
Mid 7th, Orioles 9-1: Tillman has thrown 93 pitches through seven innings, 62 strikes. He's two innings away from his first career complete game.
9:04 p.m.: Random question. Why is the number of games needed to clinch a playoff spot called a magic number?
End 6th, Orioles 9-1: No more damage done by the Orioles, but haven't they done enough already? Let's hope Aaron Cook can get some sleep before Christmas.
Baltimore's magic number to lock up a wild-card slot is four. If the Oriles hold on to beat the Red Sox (hold your laughter), the Birds' magic number will be three.
Final line for Aceves: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 K, 54 pitches, 37 strikes. The effort started with so much promise but ends with too many crooked numbers. The silver lining? We may have the makings of a fortune cookie fortune.
Mid 6th, Orioles 9-1: Stop me if you've heard this one before: one-two-three inning for Red Sox.
End 5th, Orioles 9-1: Scratch that thought about putting Aceves in the Red Sox' rotation in 2013. He's too erratic. Boston needs steadiness next year.
8:40 p.m.: Orioles add another run. Camden crowd is dancing in the stands. Alfredo Aceves is hitting the showers. So much for being lights out.
8:39 p.m.: Make that 8-1 Orioles. Baltimore is 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position. That will get the job done. Boston is 0-for-1. No comment.
8:37 p.m.: In case you're wondering why Matt Wieters isn't in the lineup for the Orioles, he and his wife, Maria, welcomed a baby boy, Maverick, to the world early this morning. Congratulations.
8:37 p.m.: Orioles strike again. Baltimore 7, Boston 1.
Mid 5th, Orioles 6-1: Take away the first inning, and we have a 0-0 pitchers' duel. Baseball. What a game. America. What a country. Baseball in America. What a pastime.
End 4th, Orioles 6-1: Aceves is living up to the "Ace" in his name. Through three innings, he's allowed no runs on two hits with three strikouts.
Sure, Aceves is a wild card, but he can pitch. Maybe the Red Sox should consider putting him in the rotation in 2013.
Mid 4th, Orioles 6-1: Jason Varitek is the Red Sox' new special assistant to the GM. He might want to start swinging a bat and get loose. Don't know if he could help Boston's offense, but he couldn't hurt.
8:08 p.m.: The Orioles acquired Tillman from the Mariners in the five-for-one Erik Bedard trade in 2008. Baltimore also received Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio in the deal. Safe to conclude the O's won that trade. Wasn't a shining moment for Bill Bavasi.
End 3rd, Orioles 6-1:: Maybe Aceves should have started this game. The reliever has brought stability to the Red Sox (there's a sentence that hasn't been written in a while). After a Jim Thome single, the reliever sets the Orioles down in order.
Mid 3rd, Orioles 6-1: A Jose Iglesias flyout to right is the highlight. When that happens, file the inning under unextraordinary. Chris Tillman is making quick work of the Red Sox.
End 2nd, Orioles 6-1: The Red Sox get the Good Aceves — for now. The right-hander cleans up Cook's mess with a double play and groundout.
Final line for Cook: 1 IP, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 2 HR. Call it the Etch A Sketch Special. If memories could be erased, this outing would top the list.
Cook's ERA against the Orioles this season in four starts balloons to 11.93. Even the 1927 Yankees would have a tough time providing run support for that kind of pitching.
7:45 p.m.: That's all for Cook. His night ends after 42 pitches, 18 strikes, 11 batters and three outs. Three outs. This start won't be part of his career highlight reel.
Enter Aceves. The Camden crowd thinks about giving him a standing ovation, but doesn't want to get overconfident.
7:43 p.m.: Alfredo Aceves is warming up in the bullpen. The Orioles are salivating like the Big Bad Wolf before eating Little Red Riding Hood.
Mid 2nd, Orioles 6-1: Red Sox seem to be more interested in making tee times than grinding out at-bats.
7:37 p.m.: If Bobby Valentine does not return as Red Sox manager in 2013, Don Orsillo is open to the idea.
End 1st, Orioles 6-1: Nine batters, five hits, two home runs, six runs. Nice start. The Birds are on pace to score 54 runs. That would be a record.
7:29 p.m.: Being a pitcher can be the loneliest job in the world. Exhibit A: Cook's first inning.
Flaherty leaves the yard with a grand slam. Orioles 6, Red Sox 1. Boston's focus has shifted from playing spoiler to not getting mercy ruled.
7:20 p.m.: That was fast. Chris Davis gives Orioles a 2-1 lead with a two-run home run over the right-field fence. The ball has not landed yet, and the hit reaffirms the O's hitting code: "You hang 'em, we bang 'em."
Could be a long night for Aaron Cook — or short night. Depends on your concept of time.
7:18 p.m.: First "Let's Go O's" chant of the night begins. Smart money says it won't be the last.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Boston strikes first by thinking little. One hit, one run. Podsednik crosses home on Dustine Pedroia's sac fly. Cue the KFC "Little Is New Big" commercial.
7:12 p.m.: Bunt. Error. Sacrifice bunt. Sacrifice fly. Run. Red Sox play small ball to take a 1-0 lead.
7:08 p.m.: Game time.
Scott Podsednik lays down a bunt single and gets to second on an errant throw by Ryan Flaherty.
6:50 p.m.: A year ago today, the Red Sox and Orioles played Game 162 of the 2011 season. Baltimore won that game 4-3 to ensure Boston missed the playoffs. The loss also completed the most epic collapse in baseball history. The Red Sox return to the scene of the crime looking to make life miserable for the Birds.
How will Friday night's #RedSoxRewind go? Use our hashtag, and join the conversation on NESN Nation.
4:17 p.m.: The Red Sox unveiled the All-Fenway Team this week. One notable player missing from the roster was Manny Ramirez.
The enigmatic left fielder helped the Red Sox win two World Series in eight seasons in Boston (2001-08) and was an All-Star every year he played in Boston. He hit .312 with 274 home runs and 868 RBIs over 1,083 career games with the Red Sox, but his body of work wasn't enough to make the cut in left field for the team of legends.
Of course, left field might be the deepest position in Red Sox history, so the three left fielders who made the All-Fenway Team aren't too shabby. Ted Williams got the starting nod (as voted by fans), Carl Yastrzemski was the first reserve, and Jim Rice was the second reserve.
Didier Morais and Ricky Doyle discussed the omission of Manny Ramirez on the All-Fenway Team on this week's Major League Baseball podcast.
3:57 p.m.: Here are the lineups for the series opener at Camden Yards.
Scott Podsednik, CF
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
James Loney, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Daniel Nava, LF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Aaron Cook, RHP
Nate McLouth, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Chris Davis, RF
Adam Jones, CF
Jim Thome, DH
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Manny Machado, 3B
Ryan Flaherty, 2B
Taylor Teagarden, C
Chris Tillman, RHP
3:40 p.m.: Rain has fallen most of the day in Boston, but Mother Nature wants to see the Red Sox and Orioles play. The forecast in Baltimore calls for 70 degrees, cloudy skies and 10-20 percent chance of precipitation.
3:22 p.m.: Jenny Dell is wrapping up her first season as NESN's Red Sox reporter. A few weeks ago, she caught up with some Red Sox fans and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia at Red Sox Fan Photo Day. Despite the team's subpar season, the event was still a big hit.
Photo via Twitter @RaysJoeMaddon
1:58 p.m.: Buck Showalter deserves to win the AL Manager of the Year Award this season. A's skipper Bob Melvin and White Sox rookie Robin Ventura are in the conversation, but Showalter has turned a perennial source of shame into a dangerous contender. At the same time, Oakland and the South Siders have tasted varying measures of postseason success over the past decade. Baltimore has had nothing to celebrate in any fall since 1997.
Showalter tends to be underrated as a field general. Look beyond his career record as a manager: 1074-1016 (.514 winning percentage). At every stop of his 14-year managerial career, he has transformed a below-.500 team into an above-.500 team after one full season in charge. He accomplished the feat with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and now the Orioles. If the Birds finish ahead of the pinstripes in the AL East, the first-place finish will be Showalter's third. If he takes home the top manager honor, the award also will be his third (he won in 1994 with the Yankees and 2004 with the Rangers).
Showalter took the reins in Baltimore in the second half of the 2010 season after a stint as an ESPN analyst (sound familiar?). He instilled a winning mentality from Day 1. Talent or no talent, the Orioles would compete every game, every inning, every pitch. Now the Fighting Showalters have a fighting chance to be one of the 10 teams that advance to the 2012 postseason.
1:19 p.m.: Six more games for the Red Sox — three against the Orioles in Baltimore, three against the Yankees in the Bronx — means six more opportunities to play spoiler.
Earlier this week, master motivator Ray Lewis reminded us that revenge is a meal best served cold.
Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium also unleashed the loudest chorus of "manure" Al Michaels has ever heard.
Will we see a replay of payback and profanity at the House That Cal Ripken Built?
8 a.m. ET: 2012 has been a tale of two seasons for Boston and Baltimore. While the end is near for the Red Sox (69-87), the Orioles (89-67) still have a very good chance to make the playoffs.
Entering play Friday, the Birds are one game behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East and lead the wild-card race. The O's look to solidfy their postseason standing with a strong series against the Red Sox.
Baltimore has been waiting a long time to host meaningful baseball in September — 15 years, to be exact — so forget about Camden Yards being Fenway South this weekend. Orange and black will be the dominant colors in the stands. "Let's go O's" will be the preferred chant. And the home crowd could make the full house for Sunday night's Patriots-Ravens thriller look like a bridge game.
Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.08) starts for Baltimore. Aaron Cook (4-10, 5.13 ERA) goes for Boston.
Pregame coverage begins on NESN at 6 p.m. ET. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Spend a few hours with Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy on TV, and join us on the live blog for a little added value.
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