[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

Miguel Gonzalez takes long road to O's pennant chase
Peter Schmuck's Grand Slam (Analyzing the O's)
Finding some numbers in the Orioles' favor
Thursday's full scoreboard

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

Tonight’s game

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)


Key matchup

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?