Road trip for O's gets no easier as they finish first half in Boston

After the Orioles struggled to find some consistent offense in Texas this week; one MLB headline must be sweet music to Buck Showalter's ears:

Boston Red Sox Pitcher Jon Lester Goes to DL (Strained lower lat muscle).

Hallelujah - cue the angels singing.

While nobody is rejoicing in Lester's pain, there has to be some comfort in the Birds knowing they won't face the notorious Orioles killer when heading to Boston for a four-game set beginning Thursday. In 17 career starts against the Orioles, Lester is 14-0 with a 2.33 ERA.

The baseball gods cut the O's a break heading into the All-Star break.

Now it's up to the Birds' bats to do their part. Coming into the series finale in Texas Wednesday night, the O's hit just .080 with runners in scoring position over their previous eight games.

There's a downer.

Here's an upper: Boston's Clay Buchholz is already on the disabled list with back problems, so the Orioles won't face him this weekend. Buchholz threw a 10-0 no hitter against Baltimore in 2007. It was just his second major league start.

Sure, one could argue the Orioles shouldn't shy away from facing the best. What's that tired cliche? "You have to beat the best to be the best?"

Yeah, well forget that. The Birds need some wins and if that means facing spot starters in Boston, bring them on.

Boston's rotation is ailing. Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller are already in the rotation for Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka. As for Sunday, Terry Francona hasn't announced who will replace Lester. It could be swingman Alfredo Aceves or former Oriole Kevin Millwood who would have to be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Now before anyone starts doing the happy dance. Hold your horses. Boston will start Josh Beckett (7-3 , 2.12 ERA) on Friday and John Lackey on Saturday. Lackey is having a down season (5-8, 7.47), but is 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA in his career against the Orioles.

While the Red Sox rotation may be thin, the Birds' is even thinner. Showalter's starters for Saturday and Sunday are TBA.

Whoever they are, they'll be facing the top hitting team in all of baseball. Boston leads the major leagues in batting average, on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage. They are second in RBIs, doubles, walks and slugging percentage.

So - maybe the baseball gods aren't that favorable after all.

Shipping off to Boston!