[Down the stretch is a daily Orioles Insider blog that will set up the coming night for the O's and their American League competition as the push for the postseason continues.]
About last night
AL East Standings
NYY 86-63 --
BAL 85-64 1
TB 80-70 6.5
AL Wild-Card Standings
BAL 85-64 --
OAK 85-64 --
LAA 81-69 4.5
TB 80-70 5.5
DET 79-70 6
Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m.
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.57 ERA) vs. LHP Jon Lester (9-12, 4.95 ERA)
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is 5-for-11 (.455) against Lester in his career -- including a double, a triple and a homer.
Other games that matter
Twins (Deduno) at Tigers (Porcello), 7:05 p.m.
Athletics (Parker) at Yankees (Sabathia), 7:05 p.m.
Blue Jays (Villanueva) at Rays (Shields), 7:10 p.m.
White Sox (Peavy) at Angels (Santana), 10:05 p.m.
Rangers (Perez) at Mariners (Iwakuma), 10:10 p.m.
Thought of the day
The proverbial tables have turned, and the Red Sox assume the role of spoilers when the Orioles open their three-game series in Boston tonight.
But, in case you haven't noticed, these aren't the same Red Sox.
You surely already know about the clubhouse issues, the Bobby Valentine strife and the big trade with the Dodgers that cleared the equivalent of the GNP of Belize from Boston's roster.
But, pop quiz, can you name even half of the Red Sox's starting lineup from last night?
This is what it was:
It's more or less a Triple-A team with a couple true major leaguers marbled within. That's something that isn't rare for a 68-83 team in September -- but it's not a lineup you expect to see from the Red Sox, a team that was thought to be the best in baseball just 13 months ago.
The Orioles actually played the Red Sox on this date last year at Camden Yards. Here was the lineup the 65-89 O's put out on that day:
By comparison, that lineup seems loaded compared to the one Boston might throw out there tonight.
Now, some of these Red Sox you haven't heard of are promising young players, and a few of their stars are injured (David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks) or just didn't start last night (Jacoby Ellsbury). But it's pretty striking to think how much has changed in the span of a year.
The Red Sox aren't only out of the race and relegated to playing spoiler -- they're in the early stages of a major rebuilding phase.
Inside the enemy clubhouses