The Orioles have won 11 of their last 15 games against the Boston Red Sox and 21 of their last 30. They've won five straight series and eight of nine dating back to Sept. 19, 2011.
Manager Buck Showalter gave Nate McLouth the start in left field tonight against Boston left-hander Felix Doubront, leaving Steve Pearce on the bench. Pearce walked past the lineup card today and asked a reporter who was pitching for the Red Sox.
There hasn't been a change. Showalter had his reasons.
"If you look at the way they've used their bullpen and what their options are down there tonight," Showalter said. "I want to have Stevie on the bench to give us something. And Nate's handled himself well."
McLouth is 8-for-28 with a double and two home runs against left-handers this season.
"Stevie's had some at-bats, so we've got him kind of in the flow," Showalter said. "He gives us the most options to move around."
McLouth fouled out to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the first inning after Kevin Gausman gave up a one-out single to Shane Victorino in the top half. Dustin Pedroia lined into a 5-3 double play with Victorino running on the pitch, and Gausman was back in the dugout.
Gausman threw 11 pitches, seven for strikes.
In other news, the Orioles are in the process of working out an agreement with Tsuyoshi Wada that would keep the left-hander in the minors beyond the end of his injury-rehab assignment this weekend.
Wada gave up seven earned runs (eight total) in 1 1/3 innings in his sixth start at Triple-A Norfolk, raising his ERA to 8.14 in 24 1/3 innings.
Wada must approve being optioned to the minors, and it's expected to happen. The Orioles would have to remove him from the 60-day disabled list and add him to the 40-man roster. They have an opening.
"I think we've got something worked out to continue to let him work his way back," Showalter said.
As I wrote yesterday, Norfolk first baseman Travis Ishikawa is expected to opt out of his contract on Saturday. Executive vice president Dan Duquette told me yesterday that he expects Ishikawa to land a major league job. The Orioles don't have a spot for him, since he's a left-handed hitting first baseman.
Already got one of those here.
Jair Jurrens will start Friday night for Norfolk after missing his last scheduled start because of a sore thumb.
The Red Sox will start left-hander Jon Lester on Sunday instead of right-hander Clay Buchholz. Lester is 14-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 career starts against the Orioles.
Update: Danny Valencia homered leading off the bottom of the third inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Valencia has four home runs since being recalled from Norfolk.
Ryan Flaherty followed with a bloop double to left, moved to third on McLouth's sacrifice bunt and scored on Manny Machado's broken-bat single into center.
Machado extended his hitting streak to 11 games, tying his career high. His 91 hits tie Miguel Cabrera for most in the majors.
If anyone predicted over the winter that Machado would be tied with Cabrera for the major league lead in hits on June 13, I want to meet you.
Markakis singled to center field, moving Machado to second base with one out, and Chris Davis singled to right with two outs to increase the lead to 3-0.
Kevin Gausman has four strikeouts in three scoreless innings - three of them coming on his split-changeup. He fanned Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a 96 mph heater.
Update II: David Ortiz and Mike Carp hit back-to-back home runs off Gausman with two outs in the top of the fourth to reduce the lead to 3-2.
Ortiz's ball landed halfway up the center field bleachers for his 14th home run. It came on a 97 mph fastball. Carp connected on a changeup.
Carp wasn't in the starting lineup. He replaced first baseman Mike Napoli, who left the game with an illness.
Gausman opened the inning by striking out Victorino on a changeup, his fifth of the night.
Update III: Gausman outlasted Doubront tonight.
Left-hander Franklin Morales replaced Doubront with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. Valencia popped up to end the inning.
Interesting that Boston manager John Farrell would replace one lefty with another lefty, especially with Valencia on deck. If you scroll back up this entry, you'll find Showalter's quote about keeping Pearce on the bench because of the Red Sox's bullpen options tonight.
The Orioles took a 4-2 lead in the fifth on an error, a hit batter and Matt Wieters' two-out single to left.