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Thursday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Jon Lester vs. Chris Tillman 08.29.13 at 10:00 am ET
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After struggling in June with an unsightly 7.62 ERA in five starts, Jon Lester appears to finally have reverted back into his role as ace of the Red Sox rotation with a 2.70 ERA in August.

Lester looks to continue his stretch of strong starts on Thursday, as the lefty and the Sox will face off against right-hander Chris Tillman and the Orioles in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

Lester had one of the strongest starts of any pitcher in the American League this season, as he went undefeated in six April starts with a 4-0 record and a 3.11 ERA.

Along with Clay Buchholz (1.19 April ERA), Lester was one of the chief reasons why the Sox led all MLB clubs with a 19-8 record that month.

However, it seemed like Lester hit a wall in June, as the lefty surrendered 38 hits in 28 1/3 June innings and gave up eight home runs, two more than he had allowed in April and May combined.

The Red Sox gave the beleaguered pitcher nine days of rest from July 14-22 by shuffling their rotation after the All-Star break. It appears that extra rest has paid off in a major way for Lester, who has a 4-1 record with a 2.31 ERA in his seven starts since the All-Star break. He has only given up one home run in his last 33 1/3 innings.

In his latest start on Saturday, his first career appearance against the Dodgers, Lester held one of the hottest teams in baseball in check for 7 1/3 innings and only allowed three hits. Koji Uehara retired the last four LA batters to secure the 4-2 victory for the Sox and give Lester his 12th win of the season.

“I know what I’m capable of. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it,” Lester said after the game. “Since the break, I’ve felt good physically, and I feel like I’m in a good place throwing the ball right now.”

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Red Sox lineup: Usual suspects for Sox as Daniel Nava returns to left field 07.26.13 at 3:12 pm ET
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After being rained out on Thursday night, the Red Sox will begin a three-game set against the third-place Baltimore Orioles in an increasingly crowded AL East.

Daniel Nava returns to the lineup on Friday night. Manager John Farrell had cited matchups as the reason for Nava’s lack of play recently, with Jonny Gomes starting in five out of the last six games.

John Lackey (7-7, 2.95) will start Friday due to the rain out on Thursday. Lackey has pitched one game against the O’s this season, where he earned the win after dealing seven innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits.

Chris Tillman (12-3, 3.84) will face-off against Lackey. Tillman has been extremely efficient in his last 10 outings, posting a 3.98 ERA with an 8-1 record. Tillman will make his second start Friday night since being selected to the All-Star team for the first time in his career.

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Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Shane Victorino RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava LF

Jarrod Saltalamacchia C

Stephen Drew SS

Jose Iglesias 3B

John Lackey P

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Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: John Lackey vs. Chris Tillman at 12:25 pm ET
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For the second day in a row Friday, John Lackey will wake up, get out of bed and prepare to pitch.

He had been slated to start against the Rays Thursday night, but after rain ruined those plans, forcing the teams to play Monday instead, the Red Sox pushed Lackey back to the series opener at Camden Yards. The 6-foot-6 righty will take on fellow right-hander Chris Tillman and the Orioles.

As noted in Wednesday’€™s pitching preview, Lackey is fresh off of an outing against the Yankees Saturday that was his worst in the last month ‘€” relative to his own recent success, at least. He was hit up for four runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings, but to his credit, he did fan seven Yankees batters while issuing zero free passes.

‘€œI feel pretty strong right now,’€ Lackey said after the game, a 5-2 Red Sox loss. ‘€œThe last month or two have been pretty solid. I’€™m just going to try to keep working hard at it and trying to give us a good chance to win when you go out there.’€

It was the first time in seven starts he failed to pitch seven complete innings. The start of that streak happened to come against his opponent Friday ‘€” the Orioles. On June 15, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out four. The Red Sox won, 5-4.

It is part of a larger stretch in which he has been the team’€™s best starter, particularly in Clay Buchholz‘€™s absence. He owns a 2.95 ERA and 1.16 WHIP to go with his 4.35 K/BB rate on the season.

Tillman (12-3, 3.84 ERA), meanwhile, will be looking to build on two strong outings of his own against the Sox earlier this year. In a pair of Baltimore wins, he went a combined 11 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and six walks. He also struck out eight.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Chris Tillman 06.14.13 at 9:28 am ET
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When the Red Sox take to the field against Chris Tillman and the Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday night, Ryan Dempster will get the ball in search of his third straight win. The right-hander has notched a victory in each of his last two outings, a seven-inning effort vs. the Rangers and then six frames against the Angels.

On the season, Dempster is 4-6 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, and he has seen an uptick in effectiveness of late. He has pitched three consecutive quality starts, with his May 28 game vs. the Phillies (seven innings, two runs) preceding the Rangers and Angels contests.

He acknowledged his high home run rate (14 long balls in 13 games) earlier this week, but said as long as they are of the solo variety it doesn’€™t bother him too much. Those things happen when he pitches to contact, which he often does with a strong offense behind him.

His last time out, Dempster gave up three runs on two walks and six hits, including two homers, against the Angels. He also fanned six to reach the 2,000-strikeout plateau for his career.

‘€œThe biggest thing is the longevity to be around long enough to get to something like that,’€ Dempster said after the game. ‘€œI’€™m sure when I’€™m done playing I’€™ll look back and maybe enjoy it a little more, but it is cool. I never play the game for stats, I play to win, but when you look back, that’€™s a lot of strikeouts.”

Tillman (6-2, 3.89 ERA) owns a 3.18 ERA in his last 10 starts dating back to April 22. More recently, the righty rebounded well after a stinker against the Nationals (six earned in 4 2/3) by yielding a combined three earned runs in 13 innings his last two contests.

He has thrown well against the Red Sox in his career, recording a 2.97 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. The Sox most recently plated two runs in Tillman’€™s 5 1/3 innings of work on April 11.

Few Red Sox have a significant number of at-bats against him. Dustin Pedroia, however, has .841 OPS in 17 at-bats.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Alfredo Aceves vs. Chris Tillman 04.11.13 at 9:31 am ET
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Alfredo Aceves will make his first start of 2013 on Thursday night, as he takes the place of injured starter John Lackey in the rotation. Aceves counterpart will be Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman. Felix Doubront has been pushed back to start in Friday’s series-opener vs. the Rays. 

This will be Aceves’ first start since June 21, 2011, when he went five innings and allowed four runs on four hits and six walks with four strikeouts in a no-decision against the Padres. In two relief appearances this year, Aceves has a 0-0 record with a 10.38 ERA. He has allowed five hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He has allowed a home run in each of his first two outings.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington noted that it has been the plan all along for Aceves to join the rotation if needed, and after Lackey’s biceps injury in Saturday’s loss to the Blue Jays, Aceves will have that opportunity.

“It just made sense for us to stick with that,” Cherington said. “We’ll see what he does. He’s certainly capable of being a good starting pitcher. He has the pitches in the mix. He’s excited for opportunity. We’ll see how it goes.”

For the O’s, Tillman will be looking to rebound from a tough outing on Saturday against the Twins. He pitched just 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts, and was fortunate to come away with a no-decision. In his 15 totals starts in 2012, Tillman only allowed five or more earned runs once.

“I felt good throughout the whole game,” Tillman said. “Physically, I felt really good. Mechanically, I felt like I was fine. All game long, I was kind of yanking, yanking my fastball and my changeup. Made some good pitches with my changeup, but I threw it to the wrong part of the plate.”

The Sox might be a good opponent for Tillman to get back on track. He is 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 25 career innings against Boston.

Current Red Sox hitters are hitting a combined .222 with only two extra-base hits in their careers vs. Tillman. For the Orioles, Adam Jones has had the most success against Aceves, hitting .333 with a home run and two doubles.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Aaron Cook vs. Chris Tillman 09.28.12 at 11:10 am ET
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The Red Sox hit the road for their final six games of the season with a chance to play spoiler against the AL East’s top two teams. They begin a three-game series with the surprising Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday night before heading to New York to finish out the season with three games against the division-leading Yankees. Aaron Cook (4-10, 5.13 ERA) is on the mound Friday and looks to help the Sox avoid a seventh loss in eight games.

Cook pitched last Saturday against the Orioles and allowed five runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Sox lost that game in 12 innings, 9-6. Cook hasn’€™t fared well against the Orioles this season at 0-2 with an 8.78 ERA in three starts.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters has five hits in eight appearances against Cook lifetime, including four doubles. Mark Reynolds, who has faced Cook the most among active Orioles, has two home runs lifetime.

Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.08) takes the hill for the Orioles. He has been strong in recent outings with a 1.64 ERA over his past four starts. He started against the Sox this past Sunday, allowing one run and six hits over six innings. The Orioles won that game 2-1, although Tillman did not factor in the decision.

Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-10 lifetime against Tillman. He’s the only active Sox player with double-figure at-bats vs. Tillman.

The Orioles, a game behind the Yankees and in first in the race for the wild card, lead the season series against Boston 10-5 and are 20 games ahead of the Sox.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Chris Tillman 09.23.12 at 8:07 am ET
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Felix Doubront will look to build upon his first win since mid-July as he and the Red Sox look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Orioles, who continue their playoff surge.

Following a seven-start stretch when he went 0-4 with an 8.39 ERA, Doubront (11-9, 5.08 ERA) comes into Sunday’€™s game with back-to-back quality starts. On Sept. 13 against the Yankees, Doubront had one of his better outings of the season, pitching 6 1/3 innings and giving up two runs, but took the loss in a 2-0 New York victory. However, in his most recent start, Doubront gave up three runs over six innings against the Rays and earned his first victory since July 18.

Unlike the rest of the Red Sox rotation, Doubront has limited exposure to the Orioles lineup after making his first career start against Baltimore on May 22 of this season. Doubront gave up two runs in six innings of work in that start but took the loss as the Orioles went on to win 4-1. Before that, Doubront had only appeared twice out of the bullpen against Baltimore, giving up two runs in an inning in 2010 before pitching two scoreless innings against them in 2011.

In his nine career innings against the Orioles, Doubront has given up four runs, all of which have come from home runs. Fortunately for Doubront, only one current Oriole (Steven Tolleson) hit one of those home runs while the rest have posted meager numbers against the left-hander. As a group, the Baltimore lineup is hitting .233 against Doubront with an OPS of just .636 and no extra-base hits other than Tolleson’€™s home run.

Taking the mound opposite Doubront will be one of the Orioles’€™ young upstarts in the starting rotation, 24-year-old Chris Tillman. In two of the past three outings, Tillman looked tremendous, shutting out the White Sox through six innings on Aug. 28. However, he would leave his Sept. 2 start against the Yankees after three innings with an elbow injury. Since then, he has returned to the rotation, looking solid in a one-run, six-inning outing against the Mariners on Sept. 17.

Boasting a 8-2 record with a 3.22 ERA, Tillman has been one of the most consistent cogs in the Baltimore rotation since his first appearance on July 4. One of those losses, though, came at the hands of the Red Sox on Aug. 16. Tillman ended up throwing his third shortest outing of the season at 4 2/3 innings and gave up three runs in the process. Despite the brevity of the outing, Tillman was still forced to throw 110 pitches in the outing, his third-highest total of the season.

Tillman has made one career start at Fenway Park back in 2011 and shut down the Red Sox lineup, throwing five shutout innings. Over his career, though, Tillman’€™s numbers are less impressive: 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA. Against the lineup he’€™ll face Sunday, Tillman’€™s numbers look even worse. In 27 plate appearances against him, the Red Sox lineup is hitting .360 with a .847 OPS against Tillman.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Chris Tillman 08.16.12 at 9:41 am ET
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Clay Buchholz gets the start Thursday night at Camden Yards as the Red Sox wrap up their four-game series against the Orioles. The start comes just one day shy of the five-year anniversary of Buchholz’€™s major league debut in 2007.

After spending much of April and May with the highest ERA in the majors, the 28-year-old has been Boston’€™s best starting pitcher for more than two months, leading the team in wins (10), ERA (4.24) and WHIP (1.28).

The Sox have won eight of Buchholz’€™s 10 starts since the end of May and the righty is coming off his best performance of the year: a complete game in which he allowed just two hits and one earned run en route to a 3-2 win over the Indians.

In his three previous starts against the Orioles this season, Buchholz is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA. The Sox won in his only start at Camden Yards this year, though Buchholz struggled, giving up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

In 119 career at-bats, the current Orioles lineup is hitting just .210 against Buchholz, though five of their 25 hits have been for home runs. J.J. Hardy has been particularly successful against Buchholz, recording four hits, two homers and three RBIs in 10 at-bats.

Taking the mound for Baltimore Thursday is Chris Tillman. The 6-foot-5 righty boasts a 3.40 ERA along with a 5-2 record in just seven starts.

Tillman was called up from the minors on July 4 for a start against the Mariners, and in his season debut he carried a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning before he was removed with one out and two men on base.

Against Boston, Tillman has not had nearly the same success. In two career games against the Sox, Tillman is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA. The six Boston players with plate appearances against Tillman are hitting a collective .464.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chris Tillman, Clay Buchholz
Monday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Chris Tillman 05.16.11 at 8:10 am ET
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There is indeed life for the Red Sox after a three-game sweep of the Yankees, even if said sweep was the first to occur in the Bronx since April 2004. That life begins quickly Monday night when Boston, the newest member of the .500 club at 20-20, sets its sights on the Baltimore Orioles (19-20) in the first of a two-game set at Fenway Park. Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to extend the winning streak when he takes the hill against Baltimore’€™s Chris Tillman.

Matsuzaka (3-3, 4.64 ERA) will take the hill on seven days’ rest, his longest break between starts this season, after being skipped over in the Yankees series. This will be the third time in 2011 that the righty has pitched on more than the regular four days between outings. The extra time off worked quite well back on Patriots Day when Matsuzaka surrendered just one hit and one walk over seven innings in a 9-1 Sox win over Toronto after resting for six days. However 11 days later in his second start with extra rest (five days), he lasted just four innings (3H, 3R, 1 ER, 4BB, 4K) before leaving early with what was deemed elbow stiffness.

In nine career starts against the O’€™s, the 30-year-old is 4-3 with a 5.73 ERA. Current Baltimore hitters have performed fairly well, led by switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters‘€™s 6-for-11 performance. With almost twice the experience, Brian Roberts (9-for-20, 4 doubles) has performed equally as admirably.

But if those numbers look scary for the Sox’€™ prospects of finally bursting through the .500 bubble, those hopes may be restored by looking at the stats for Tillman (2-3, 6.15). The Baltimore righty’€™s ERA is the highest among the five starters of a staff that ranks second-to-last in the American League in that category.

Tillman only has one career start against Boston and was knocked around for four earned runs over just 1-1/3 innings of work in an 11-0 loss on June 4 of last season. Although lefty Carl Crawford (6-for-12, two triples) may be the only Sox player with more than three appearances against the Baltimore righty, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis may be the biggest benefactors of Tillman’s start Monday night as right-handed hitters have blasted him to the tune of a .352 average in 2011. By comparison, lefties are hitting nearly .100 points lower at .253. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Chris Tillman, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Orioles, Red Sox
Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 6/4 06.04.10 at 2:06 pm ET
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When the Red Sox and Orioles open up their three-game series on Friday night, two young hurlers will be on the mound in Clay Buchholz and Chris Tillman. Buchholz will look to continue his recent success while Tillman will face Boston for the first time in his career.

In his third full season in the majors, Buchholz seems like he’€™s finally put it all together after having struggles early in his career. Following a loss to the Yankees on May 8 in which he was shelled for five earned runs in only five innings, Buchholz has put together a string of four stellar outings. In that span, he’€™s recorded a win in each start and has tossed at least six innings without allowing more than two runs. Buchholz’€™ best performance came in his last start against the Royals when he outdueled Zack Greinke to the tune of seven scoreless innings to improve his record to 7-3.

Facing Baltimore on Friday night, Buchholz will take on the same team against which he made history  in 2007 in only his second career start. He tossed a no-hitter in a 10-0 victory, making him only the 21st rookie to complete the feat since 1900. For his career, Buchholz is 4-2 with a 4.21 ERA and a .205 batting average against in six starts against the Orioles.

Opposing Buchholz on the mound in the series opener will be Tillman, a highly touted pitching prospect in his first full season in the majors. After he was called up last year at the end of June, Tillman was solid in his first seven outings before fading in the final month of the season. In five September starts, he went 1-3 and allowed four or more runs in four appearances.

Tillman began the 2010 season at Triple-A Norfolk before being promoted to replace David Hernandez in the fifth spot in the Baltimore rotation. In his first start on May 29 against the Blue Jays, he allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings and got a no-decision in a 5-2 loss. Tillman has never pitched against Boston in his career, and the only Red Sox hitter he’€™s ever faced is Marco Scutaro when he was on the Athletics.

Boston has been on the rise in its last 16 games, in which it’€™s gone 12-4 and climbed back within 5 1/2 games of the division-leading Rays. Facing Tillman on Friday night, the Red Sox will look to take advantage of a young pitcher while Buchholz attempts to keep up with David Price for the league lead in wins (8).

Red Sox vs. Tillman

Marco Scutaro (3 career plate appearances against Tillman): .500 average/.667 OBP/.500 slugging, 1 walk

The Baltimore starter has never faced Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Darnell McDonald, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek or Kevin Youkilis.

Orioles vs. Buchholz

Nick Markakis (18 career plate appearances against Buchholz): .154 average/.389 OBP/.154 slugging, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Luke Scott (12): .100/.250/.400, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Adam Jones (6): .500/.500/1.500, 1 double, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 1 walk

Matt Wieters (6): .600/.667/.800, 1 double, 1 walk

Ty Wigginton (6): .333/.333/.833, 1 home run, 2 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Cesar Izturis (5): .250/.400/.250, 1 walk

Corey Patterson (4): .000/.000/.000

Miguel Tejada (4): .000/.000/.000

Scott Moore (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Luis Montanez has a hit in his only at-bat against Buchholz with an RBI. The Boston starter has never faced Garrett Atkins, Julio Lugo or Craig Tatum.

Read More: Chris Tillman, Clay Buchholz, Orioles, Red Sox
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