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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, June 5th (All times Eastern)

Baltimore Orioles (30-24) at Boston Red Sox (28-26), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Jason Hammel (6-2, 3.06) Boston - Jon Lester (3-4, 4.79)

(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox have two things going for them in Tuesday's opener of a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles: Jon Lester is taking the mound and former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia is expected to return.

Pedroia exited last Monday's win over Detroit with discomfort in his right hand, which was later diagnosed as a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb. Batting .295 with five homers, 21 RBI and 30 runs this season, Pedroia was able to avoid a trip to the disabled list and even took batting practice with a fitted brace over his hand.

The 2008 AL MVP had no swelling or discomfort in the hand on Sunday and is targeting a Tuesday return.

"Play Tuesday," Pedroia said when asked while packing for Beantown.

Boston took two of three in Toronto over the weekend and failed to complete the sweep with Sunday's 5-1 loss. Kelly Shoppach's solo home run in the fifth inning accounted for Boston's scoring and Mike Aviles finished with a pair of hits. Daniel Bard was roughed up in just 1 2/3 innings of work and surrendered five runs and one hit, including Jose Bautista's three-run homer in the first.

"It's just a matter of getting back to what I had success doing in the past," said Bard. "There's no reason that the way I threw the ball out of the bullpen shouldn't translate to starting."

Despite the loss, Boston, which will open a six-game homestand versus the Orioles and Nationals tonight, is still playing solid baseball with 16 wins in the last 23 games. The Red Sox are tied with Toronto at three games off the AL East lead and hope Lester can maintain his unblemished mark against the Orioles. Lester is 14-0 with a 2.47 earned run average in 19 career starts against Baltimore and posted a no-decision in a 6-4 loss on May 4.

Lester allowed three runs in six innings to remain unbeaten in the series. The left-hander is riding the longest current win streak by any active pitcher versus any team. Roy Oswalt won his first 15 decisions against Cincinnati from 2001-05. Boston starter Mel Parnell won 17 straight decisions against Washington from 1948-1952.

Lester is 3-4 with a pedestrian 4.79 ERA in 11 starts this season and is 0-1 in his previous two starts. He did not figure into the decision of a 6-4 win over Detroit last Wednesday and allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. He has given up 15 runs over his last three outings.

Baltimore has fallen from grace and is just 3-10 in its last 13 games.

The Orioles fell to 1-5 on a nine-game road trip and dropped two of three matchups with the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, including Sunday's 8-4 setback in the series finale. Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds both homered and finished with three hits and two RBI for Baltimore, which is still two games ahead of the Red Sox and one game behind Tampa Bay in the division.

Orioles starter Jake Arrieta allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings to suffer the loss. He is now 2-7 on the season.

"I wasn't able to get ahead of a few guys in the fifth inning," Arrieta said. "They weren't hitting me, I was letting them on base for free."

Orioles slugging outfielder Adam Jones underwent an X-ray and MRI on both hands and wrists after the series with the Rays. The tests revealed contusions and the newly-paid Jones is expected to play in Tuesday's opener with Boston. Jones signed a six-year, $85.5 million contract extension a week ago and is batting .315 with 16 home runs and 34 RBI this season.

"It just didn't feel right," said Jones. "I can feel it when I'm hitting. [The doctors] wanted to get a picture of it, and I wanted to get a picture of it, and see what's going on in there so we can be sure and relieve any doubt."

Jason Hammel will toe the rubber for Baltimore tonight and he is 6-2 with a 3.06 earned run average in 10 starts. Hammel was 3-0 in four starts until losing at Toronto last Wednesday, as he yielded four runs and nine hits over 6 2/3 innings of a 4-1 setback.

The right-hander defeated the Red Sox on May 5 in an 8-2 decision at Fenway Park and delivered 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball in that one. In 10 career games (4 starts) against Boston, Hammel is 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA.

Baltimore has won four of six matchups with Boston this season and swept a three-game series in Beantown from May 4-6. The Orioles have won five in a row at Fenway Park.

06/05 10:37:31 ET


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