Just like that memorable night in Baltimore, it will be Jon Lester on the mound for the Red Sox. Lester returns to the bump coming off his strongest outing of the year and his first victory in eight starts dating back to Sept. 11, 2011. Lester, who had been mired in the longest winless streak of his career, tossed seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts and five hits allowed in a pitchers' duel with a Jake Peavy in Chicago on Saturday.
"Those games are fun. It's just a battle. I've been on the other end of those," Lester said following the start. "You feel like you do everything you can to put your team in position to win, and the other guy just does a little bit more or you don't get the timely hitting or whatever."
"Well, sometime, either last night or today, he asked what he had to do," added Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "I just said, 'Pitch like an ace, like Jon Lester is,' and he pitched like an ace. He had both sides of the plate, two-seamer away, cutter in, had a good changeup. Very competitive. He was terrific."
Lester went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts vs. Baltimore in 2011, improving to 14-0 in 18 career starts against the club, extending his mark for the longest win streak against the Orioles franchise (since 1901) to begin a career.
The Red Sox, coming off a series loss to Oakland to begin their six-game homestand, will lean on their left-hander as they square off against their upstart divisional foe and Wei-Yin Chen in a battle of southpaws.
Chen looks to continue his strong start to his Major League career, coming off his second victory of the season in a seven-inning, one-run effort against the Athletics. The left-hander has allowed just eight runs (six earned) over 24 1/3 innings this season, with 19 strikeouts and eight walks.
"I feel like I am getting improved every time I go out on the mound," Chen said through his interpreter after the game. "I feel like I am getting better and better. I am really thankful to [pitching] coach Rick [Adair] and all the staff and all the team to be here to support me."
Orioles: Rotation changes for Fenway series
Manager Buck Showalter decided to tweak the rotation ahead of the series with the Red Sox. Jason Hammel, who is dealing with an ingrown toenail, was moved up to Saturday and will be followed by Tommy Hunter on Sunday afternoon. Due to Thursday's off-day, Orioles pitchers will receive an extra day of rest.
"Tommy's had an ingrown toenail that he's had a cut on," Showalter said. "I just want to give him a couple extra days and get him back to 100 percent. He'll tell you that he is, but we had an opportunity and we'll see if we can give him a couple extra days there."
After a day of weighing his options, left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada decided to undergo Tommy John surgery. Wada is slated to have the surgery on May 11, performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who concurred with the original diagnosis of Orioles team doctors. The 31-year-old Wada signed a two-year, $8.15 million contract with Baltimore in the offseason.
Red Sox: Roster move bolsters bullpen
The Red Sox recalled right-hander Clayton Mortensen from Triple-A Pawtucket before Wednesday's game against the Athletics, and he allowed just one hit and notched six strikeouts over three shutout innings.
Mortensen, acquired from the Rockies in the Marco Scutaro trade, was 2-2 with a 0.90 ERA in six appearances with 10 strikeouts and four walks in Triple-A. Mortensen went 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 16 appearances (six starts) with Colorado last year.
Aaron Cook, who had a Tuesday opt-out clause in his contract, will make his Red Sox debut on Saturday in place of Josh Beckett, who threw a season-high 126 pitches in his last outing.
Mike Aviles hit five home runs in April, the most by a Red Sox shortstop in April since Nomar Garciaparra hit five in 2003.
Orioles starters have made nine quality starts in their last 10 games, pitching to a 1.62 ERA (12 ER in 66 1/3 IP). Jake Arrieta recorded the 16th start of six innings or more on Wednesday. The Orioles are 14-2 when a starter gives them at least six frames.
The Orioles held the Yankees to two runs or less in every game of their series this week, marking the first time since May 31-Aug. 4, 1978, they limited the Yankees in such a fashion.