Game 104: Red Sox (61-42) @ Orioles (57-46), 7:05

USA TODAY Sports

Division-leading Boston comes to town and the Orioles have a chance to gain some ground, if they can ever start hitting again. Chris Tillman pitches against John Lackey.

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Can we just forget that Kansas City series ever happened? That sounds like a plan to me. Why do you think they had a second All-Star Break without actually playing another All-Star Game? I do not know either.

So nothing like the division-leading Red Sox to get back into the grind, and not only that, but the division-leading Red Sox with their best pitcher going. It's weird to imagine John Lackey as the best anything, but there you have it. These are strange times in baseball. His 2.95 ERA goes with a 7-7 record, which means he's had some really unfortunate games this year. The sound of me pitying him sounds a lot like one of the most infamous pieces of music of all time: the 4'33".

Lackey has stats that suggest he will probably destroy the Orioles tonight. In fact, after that Royals series that I told you to forget but I can't forget because that's how terrible it was, I really wouldn't be surprised to see them get no-hit tonight. Lackey has 100 strikeouts in 106.2 IP and gets over 50% ground balls, though about one in seven of the fly balls turn into homers.

It's kind of fitting that he'll be up against All-Star Chris Tillman (a phrase I'll never get tired of typing) who got his All-Star status mostly because of his having 11 wins even though his ERA was close to 4. After a good start in his last game, he now has 12 wins, and lowered his ERA. That was against Texas, in Texas, no less. That doesn't suck.

There is a line on the Orioles game notes about Tillman that says "Quietly Becoming An Ace". Let's not get ridiculous here, Orioles. Just because Tillman, with a win tonight, would have won more games than any Orioles pitcher since Erik Bedard won 13 in 2007 doesn't mean he is an ace. Aces do more than just pick up wins with a high-3 ERA. Although, sure, I'd rather he be winning than losing, but let's not expect it to continue here.

Tillman has allowed 21 home runs this year, with 16 of them coming at Camden Yards. Lefty or righty, it doesn't matter, they hit homers off Tillman at Camden Yards. They will hit a home run tonight, probably. Someone will. Maybe more than one. Maybe we'll be lucky and the bases will be empty. I don't know.

The Orioles are eleven games over .500, which does not suck. These doldrums do not mean we will be sinking back down into near-100 loss seasons (I hope not), but expectations are higher now. It's more than just not wanting to be a joke. The Orioles are in the race and it feels like they will not be for long, even if they stay respectable. Maybe they'll turn it around and gain some division ground tonight. Or maybe I'll witness my first-ever perfect game.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES BOSTON RED SOX
Nate McLouth - LF Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Shane Victorino - RF
Nick Markakis - RF Dustin Pedroia - 2B
Adam Jones - CF Davis Ortiz - DH
Chris Davis - 1B Mike Napoli - 1B
Matt Wieters - C Daniel Nava - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C
Henry Urrutia - DH Stephen Drew - SS
Brian Roberts - 2B Jose Iglesias - 3B

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