**Join us in the Orange Crush live chat at 7:00 as the Orioles welcome Boston to town for the first time this season in the opener of a three-game set against the Red Sox**
BALTIMORE — Having lost 11 of their last 13 games to find themselves in last place in the AL East, the Orioles badly needed a day off Monday after being swept by the Yankees in an abbreviated two-game series over the weekend.
However, Tuesday brings no relief as the Boston Red Sox (10-11) come to town on fire as they continue to leave their nightmarish 2-10 start in their rear-view mirror. Winners of eight of their last nine and five straight, Boston visits Camden Yards for the first time this season after splitting the season series last season (9-9). Those nine losses were the most to the Orioles since 2004 when Boston went 9-10, the last time Baltimore won the season series against the Red Sox.
Needing a good start against an impressive lineup, the Orioles (8-12) send rookie left-hander Zach Britton to the mound in his first career start against one of the two big boys in the AL East. After picking up his third win of the season last Wednesday against Minnesota, Britton tied the franchise record for wins in April by a rookie starter. The most recent Oriole to accomplish the feat was Willis Roberts in 2001.
Despite having a struggling offense ranking near the bottom of baseball in runs scored and on-base percentage, manager Buck Showalter will go with the same lineup we’ve seen through much of the first three weeks of the season. When asked about the possibility of shuffling the lineup to provide a spark, the Orioles manager said he will not tip his hand one way or the other but stated his continued confidence in the many veterans struggling out of the gate in 2011.
In contrast, Red Sox manager Terry Francona has batted Carl Crawford — and his $142 million contract — in the first, second, third, seventh, and eighth spots already this season. The left field bats eighth tonight while first baseman Derrek Lee — and his two runs batted in — remains in the third spot for the Orioles.
Quite a contrast in lineup philosophies, isn’t it?
The Orioles again received good news on the Brian Matusz front Tuesday afternoon as the lefty threw from 120 feet and even a handful of pitches from the front of the bullpen mound. Matusz may throw his first official bullpen session on Thursday before departing for Sarasota when the Orioles begin a six-game road trip on Friday.
The tentative plan is for Matusz to pitch in at least one extended spring training game before embarking on a minor league rehab assignment. The lefty remains on track for a return to the big league rotation in mid-May, but that all depends on how he responds when he actually gets back on the mound.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
SS Jed Lowrie
RF J.D. Drew
LF Carl Crawford
C Jason Varitek
SP Clay Buchholz (1-2, 5.31 ERA)
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derrek Lee
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
3B Mark Reynolds
C Matt Wieters
SS Robert Andino
SP Zach Britton (3-1, 3.16 ERA)
As we do for every weeknight home game, join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the evening! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis regarding the happenings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!