Miguel Gonzalez returns as Orioles try to win series

The Orioles and Red Sox are playing the rubber match this afternoon at Fenway Park after splitting the first two games of the series.

The Orioles need to bounce back after allowing five unearned runs last night. And yes, you see what I did there.

Did anyone else think J.J. Hardy looked uncomfortable while running the bases after reaching on Dustin Pedroia’s errant throw on an attempted double play? Something didn’t look right.

Mychal Givens retired the side in order in the eighth inning and became the 999th player to appear in a game for the Orioles since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Anyone care to guess who will be No. 1,000?

Miguel Gonzalez throws Fenway.jpgGivens could be optioned today to make room for starter Miguel Gonzalez, who is coming off the disabled list. He would be the logical move, and it made sense for manager Buck Showalter to get him into the game last night with the Orioles trailing 5-1.

Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer last night at Double-A Bowie. He seems ready to come off the disabled list, but the Orioles aren’t in a rush. They still need to figure out how to make room for Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen.

The Orioles will face Eduardo Rodriguez for the second time in his six major league starts, which again will have fans debating the wisdom of trading him last summer for left-hander Andrew Miller. And I’ll refuse to join the fray today because I can’t keep explaining the logic behind it and how life as a contender is different than life as a seller at the non-waiver deadline.

Rodriguez has allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his five starts, the exception being the nine-run, eight-hit beating he took over 4 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays on June 14 that raised his ERA from 0.44 to 3.55. He shut out the Orioles on three hits over six innings on June 9, walking three and striking out seven.

Hardy, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters had the hits off Rodriguez, who’s held right-handers to a .193 average and left-handers to a .192 average.

Gonzalez is making his first start since June 9, when he shut out the Red Sox over 4 1/3 innings before leaving the game with a strained groin muscle. He’s allowed one earned run or fewer in six of his 12 starts.

Gonzalez also faced the Red Sox on April 19 and 24, allowing a combined seven runs and 13 hits over 11 innings. He’s 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) against them, and 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in six games (four starts) at Fenway Park.

Hanley Ramirez, who left last night’s game with a hand injury, is 3-for-7 with two home runs against Gonzalez. Mike Napoli is 2-for-15 with six strikeouts, Xander Bogaerts is 2-for-11 and Pedroia is 4-for-20.

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