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Red Sox (59-42) at Orioles (44-57)

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We will see a slightly different version of the Red Sox than the Orioles saw last weekend. Adam LaRoche is gone, Casey Kotchman is in, as is catcher Victor Martinez. Boy, if that isn't a vote of confidence for the Red Sox captain Jason Varitek, I don't know what is.

The Orioles are not the same team as they were on July 26, either. Closer George Sherrill is now pitching for the Dodgers, while Brad Bergesen's trip to the disabled list for 15 days means not only Kam Mickolio comes up, but so does Chris Ray. A decision about who will take Tuesday's start for 3E will have to wait until this series is over. The lineup gets a shake-up as well, as Nolan Reimold goes to the #2 spot, Adam Jones drops to #3 and Nick Markakis makes his third start at cleanup, while Melvin Mora sits. Again.

David Ortiz is slowly, slowly filling in dirt in the hole he dug himself with a putrid first 10 weeks of the season, but is still batting only .228. Even against the Orioles, he's only batting .250. And he's shocked, I say shocked, to learn he tested positive for PED use in 2003. Yup, just shocked. And that makes, let's see, one of us.

And don't look now, but the Orioles' Team ERA for the past month is below 4.00. Slowly, we're getting better, and eventually, the Win-Loss record will show that.

Tonight's matchup is fairly favorable, as John Smoltz has pitched terribly while in a Red Sox uniform. As Yahoo! reminds us, "Baltimore pounded Smoltz in his latest start for six runs and nine hits over five innings Sunday in a 6-2 win. It was the fourth time in six outings he allowed at least five runs."

Jeremy Guthrie, for his part, needs to look a lot better than he did Saturday. But I have a feeling ol' Guts will pick up the mantle of staff ace dropped by his fallen comrade. Lead us to victory, Jeremy. Lead us to victory.

Some last minute news, courtesy of Roch Kubatko over at MASN:

*Melvin Mora is out again today, and it's not a health issue. Apparently Diamond Dave has seen enough of Mora's offensive struggles, and will give Ty Wigginton more chances to prove he should be the starting 3B.

"Let's just say this: If guys hit, they'll play. Or it makes it easier for me to put guys in there if they hit," Trembley said. About damn time, I say.

*Apparently, Rich Hill DID go to medical school at some point in his life - he does has a labrum tear.

"Orioles pitcher Rich Hill is leaning toward undergoing surgery on his left shoulder after an arthrogram and MRI revealed a displaced labrum tear. The Orioles have recommended that Hill get a second opinion, but he's likely to have the surgery and endure a six-to-eight month recovery period. Hill said doctors could insert anchors in the shoulder to repair the tear."

*Finally, Brad Bergesen is probably going to have to have fluid drained from his shin, and that won't happen for a week. He's been told that all X-rays taken and re-examinations by the team's medical staff revealed no break, but to keep it elevated and iced for the near future. And Aubrey Huff tried to convince the press he'd been dealt, but Roch didn't fall for it.

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W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - John Smoltz 1-4 6 6 0 0 0 0 30.2 42 24 24 4 5 28 7.04 1.53


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jeremy Guthrie 7-9 22 20 1 0 0 0 115.2 121 73 67 23 38 69 5.21 1.37


Lineup

Boston Red Sox @ Baltimore Orioles

07/31/09 7:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox Baltimore Orioles
Jacoby Ellsbury - CF Brian Roberts - 2B
Dustin Pedroia - 2B Nolan Reimold - LF
Kevin Youkilis - 1B Adam Jones - CF
David Ortiz - DH Nick Markakis - RF
Jason Bay - LF Aubrey Huff - 1B
Mike Lowell - 3B Ty Wigginton - 3B
Jason Varitek - C Luke Scott - DH
Rocco Baldelli - RF Matt Wieters - C
Nick Green - SS Cesar Izturis - SS