Down the Stretch (Sept. 21)

Down the Stretch (Sept. 21)

[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

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?

This is what it was:

Pedro Ciriaco
Dustin Pedroia
Cody Ross
Ryan Lavarnway
Mauro Gomez
Mike Aviles
Daniel Nava
Scott Podsednik
Jose Iglesias

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:

Robert Andino
J.J. Hardy
Nick Markakis
Vladimir Guerrero
Matt Wieters
Adam Jones
Mark Reynolds
Chris Davis
Matt Angle

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

Poll question