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Game 26: Orioles (16-9) @ Red Sox (11-13), 7:10pm

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If Taiwan's Hero, Wei-Yin Chen, holds the Red Sox under 10 runs, that's a good sign for the Orioles. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PRESSWIRE
If Taiwan's Hero, Wei-Yin Chen, holds the Red Sox under 10 runs, that's a good sign for the Orioles. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PRESSWIRE

The last time the Orioles saw the Boston Red Sox, Terry Francona was the manager, Theo Epstein the GM, and Jonathan Papelbon the closer. Following the Robert Andino walk-off (and, miles and miles away, the Evan Longoria walk-off), Francona was chased out of town and kicked by anonymous-sourced rumors of prescription drug abuse. Epstein absconded to Chicago, where he now presides over a 9-16 Cubs team. Papelbon fled the shame, rewarded by Ruben Amaro with $50 million to soothe where it stings. Francona's done OK for himself, too, now working for ESPN where he does a pretty good job.

Awesome as it was to watch that train wreck happen, none of it matters now. It's 2012, a brand new year, and the Orioles and Red Sox are different teams made up of different players. Much as I often joke about assorted superstition, curses and other such dark magic, there is no such thing as any of it. There is no Curse of the Andino, though it'd be awesome if there was, since he's leading off tonight. No power has doled out karmic justice to Boston in the form of $77 million worth of payroll on the disabled list. That's life, and their life sucks right now. We can only hope that the Orioles, by no power other than their own, continue to make things miserable in Beantown.

By ERA, the Red Sox have the third-worst starters in baseball heading into this series. Their starting pitchers have managed an Oriolesque 5.50 so far. They haven't been helped by poor performance from the usually-reliable Jon Lester. Lest we forget, Lester has never had a loss in his career against the Orioles, though he's been no-decision'd in a couple of losses, including that fateful late September game last year. Again, there's no magic here, no other power other than that Lester has been a good pitcher and the O's have sucked for 13 years. But Lester has a 4.65 ERA in 2012. What's been his problem? A cursory look at his Fangraphs pitch values seems to suggest a once-dominant cut fastball is not. If that stays true tonight, perhaps the Orioles can take advantage too.

The Red Sox have a 5-12 record when scoring fewer than 10 runs. So if the Orioles can get a good start out of Wei-Yin Chen in his first ever time facing these Boston hitters, that'll be an excellent sign. For all the injuries they've suffered, they're not without dangerous hitters still in their lineup, like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez. If Chen makes mistakes, there are guys who will make him pay.

Chen will have an interesting defensive alignment behind him tonight, with Mark Reynolds at third base and Wilson Betemit in left field. When I say interesting there, understand that the word is a curse in the sense of the oft-cited (but perhaps not real) phrase purportedly translated from Chinese: "May you live in interesting times."

Keep them below 10 runs!


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES BOSTON RED SOX
Robert Andino - 2B Mike Aviles - SS
J.J. Hardy - SS Will Middlebrooks - 3B
Nick Markakis - RF Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
Adam Jones - CF Dustin Pedroia - 2B
Matt Wieters - DH David Ortiz - DH
Wilson Betemit - LF Cody Ross - RF
Chris Davis - 1B Darnell McDonald - LF
Mark Reynolds - 3B Marlon Byrd - CF
Ronny Paulino - C Kelly Shoppach - C