BOSTON -- The Red Sox are 6-13 against the Orioles going back to September 2011, when they dropped two of three in Fenway and then lost two of three in Camden Yards in the last series of the season, the one that eliminated the Sox from postseason play.
The Orioles are the ones competing for a postseason spot now, entering play Friday night just a game behind the Yankees in the AL East and with the Athletics 4˝ games ahead of the Angels for one of two wild-card spots. With 13 games left to play, it would take a collapse comparable to the one the Sox experienced last season for Baltimore to miss the playoffs.
The Sox held a three-game lead over Tampa Bay last season with 13 games to play, and went 4-9 the rest of the way, which allowed the Rays to sneak in even though they went a rather modest 8-5 over their last 13 games.
The Sox put a crimp on Tampa Bay's hopes of returning to the postseason this year by winning the first two games of their four-game set, the Rays 5˝ games back with a dozen to go. Now they have a shot at doing the same to the Orioles, though manager Bobby Valentine downplayed that as an incentive this weekend.
"I don't get a lot of glee out of other people's misery," Valentine said, "but I want our team to play as well as they can in front of our fans because this is our last homestand. You know they've given everything they've got every time they've gone out on the field, guys with a lot of pride. We'll try to do our best."
Dustin Pedroia, for one, declined Valentine's offer to take a day off. The Orioles, he told ESPNBoston's Joe McDonald, are "fighting for first place and you need to respect the game."
Jacoby Ellsbury, though, will not be in the lineup with a physical "situation" Valentine declined to disclose, other than to say Ellsbury shouldn't have played Thursday night. It's not believed serious.
"We're making sure it's nothing more than a little situation," Valentine said.
Ellsbury had a 38-game hitting streak against the Orioles that ended Aug. 16, the last time the teams played. That was the longest streak any player has ever had against the Orioles, and is second only to Vlad Guerrero's 44-game hitting streak against Texas as longest streak against one team.
The Orioles have won four of six games on their current trip, including back-to-back extra-inning wins in Seattle. They have yet to beat Jon Lester, who will be looking to extend his 14-0 record against them Friday night, although the Orioles have won each of the last three games started by Lester against them.
A few tidbits:
" The Sox recalled pitchers Zach Stewart and Pedro Beato and third baseman Danny Valencia from Pawtucket, while manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur of the International League champs have joined Valentine's staff.
"It gets a little crowded in that coaches' room, and I even offered my office if anybody wanted to dress there, but you know what the coaches think of me," Valentine said, with apparent sarcasm.
" Stewart will make a start in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka next week, Valentine said, though the manager added that Matsuzaka will make one final start.
" Valentine, who has been giving extended playing time to Pedro Ciriaco and Jose Iglesias on the left side of the infield, said he's not sure how much Mike Aviles will play the rest of the way. He would have started Aviles at second, Valentine said, if Pedroia had accepted a day off. Aviles has started 12 of 18 games this month.
Friday night's lineup:
Pedro Ciriaco, 3b
Scott Podsednik, cf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
Cody Ross, rf
James Loney, 1b
Daniel Nava, lf
Jose Iglesias, ss
Jon Lester, LHP