Well, the Red Sox skipper is loose

His team may have baseball's second-worst September record at 7-19, but Red Sox skipper Terry Francona didn't seem to be feeling any pressure today during his pregame interview session with reporters.

If the Red Sox play tonight as loose as their manager was, they probably have a pretty good chance to win here at Camden Yards as they try to secure the AL wild-card berth.

Francona cracked several one liners this afternoon in a press room here at Camden Yards.

He was reminded that he had said he was very nervous during the game last night. He was asked when was the last time he had been that nervous during a game.

"The night before," he joked

Francona reminded reporters that he hopes his club's travel plans after tonight's game take his team anywhere but home.

"We've a lot of destinations possible later tonight. We're all hoping we don't go back to Boston. We'll be happy to go anywhere but Boston," he said as that would mean his team's season is over.

His pitcher tonight, Jon Lester, will be starting on three days rest for just the second time in his career.

"I don't think the three days thing will be a big deal," Francona said. "He only threw 56 pitches (that last start). We're at a point in the year where you're not throwing a lot of sides anyway. I don't think that's an issue. His last three outings haven't been Lester-ish, but I'd love to see him dial one up and stay out there for awhile. That would be terrific."

Lester is, of course, 14-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 17 career starts against the Orioles. But his ERA is 10.54 over his past three starts.

Francona's team is loaded with big-game playoff experience and tonight classifies as a big game for them.

"I hope it helps," he said. "We got ourselves into this situation with the same guys, but you try to pull on anything that can help and stay away from the stuff that doesn't help."

He was also asked if he has been scoreboard watching very closely over the last few days.

"I noticed that St. Louis and Houston were tied for a good portion of the night," he joked before he headed out to the field for a game he hopes leads his team into the American League playoffs.

If Tampa and Boston are still tied in the standings after tonight, they will play a one-game tiebreaker for the AL wild card spot tomorrow afternoon at 4:07 p.m. at Tropicana Field.

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