Unlike the Minnesota Twins, who came to Camden Yards to start this homestand with a lineup depleted by injuries and illness, the Orioles aren't exactly catching the Boston Red Sox at the right time. After starting the season 0-6, the Red Sox have won five straight games and eight of their past nine.
They are coming off a series in which they outscored the Los Angeles Angels 20-5 in securing their first four-game sweep in Anaheim since 1980. Boston's pitching staff has hurled 19 consecutive scoreless innings and posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since June 19-20, 2007.
Over the past nine games, Red Sox starters are 7-0 with an 0.88 ERA.
Did I mention it's not a good time for the Orioles to be running into the Red Sox, who with a victory tonight would reach the .500 mark for the first time this season?
The good news is that the Orioles have Zach Britton on the mound tonight and Jeremy Guthrie tomorrow, followed by Brad Bergesen on Thursday.
The bad news is that the three pitchers they face -- Clay Buchholz tonight, Josh Beckett Wednesday and Jon Lester Thursday -- are a combined 24-5 in 39 career outings against the Orioles with a 2.93 ERA. Lester has done the most damage with a 13-0 record and a 2.33 ERA in 16 career starts versus Baltimore.
Buchholz is probably the most vulnerable of the three. The young right-hander has failed to go six innings in each of his past three starts. He has also walked 12 batters in his past 14 innings. But he has certainly been tough on the Orioles, going 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA and one no-hitter in nine career outings versus them.
Is this the day manager Buck Showalter juggles his lineup and perhaps moves struggling first baseman Derrek Lee out of the No. 3 hole? It wouldn't shock me, but Showalter has rebuked questions about juggling the lineup. Is there any chance Showalter gives scuffling right fielder Nick Markakis the day off? I'd say no, but Markakis is 2-for-20 with four strikeouts and a double-play ball in his career against Buchholz. Fellow outfielder Luke Scott is just as bad, with a 1-for-16 line against Buchholz with four strikeouts and two double plays.
On the other end of the spectrum, Brian Roberts is 7-for-18 with five walks against Buchholz, while Vladimir Guerrero is 4-for-9.
The Orioles have lost 11 of 13, and their great start, which seemed to energize the fan base, is a distant memory. With Camden Yards likely to be infiltrated by Red Sox fans over the next three days, things could get really ugly around here for the home fans if the Orioles don't start hitting the ball and playing better baseball.