On Tuesday, the Red Sox will start a pitcher who has already dominated the Orioles twice this season, when Curt Schilling takes the mound in the middle game of their series at Camden Yards.
Despite struggling in his last start, Schilling (5-2, 3.76 ERA) has allowed only four runs combined in victories over Baltimore on April 8 and May 5.
Boston hasn’t lost to Baltimore since Sept. 2, including seven straight this season. The Red Sox have outscored the Orioles 56-20 in 2006, including an 11-1 win Monday.
The Red Sox hadn’t played since Friday after two rainouts over the weekend, but didn’t look rusty at the plate. Boston had 13 hits and Jason Varitek scored a career-high four runs.
“Anytime you take some time off you kind of worry. I don’t know if stale is the right word, but you’re not sure,” said Boston manager Terry Francona, who picked up his 500th career victory. “We did a good job. We played a very crisp game tonight.”
Boston’s 12-game win streak against Baltimore is its longest since the Orioles moved from St. Louis in 1954.
To extend that streak, the Red Sox will need Schilling bounce back from a poor outing his last time out. In a 7-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday, when he gave up eight hits and six runs in five innings.
The 39-year-old right-hander allowed three home runs after giving up four in his first 47 2-3 innings this season.
“I felt like I had everything working. I gave it, and they took it back,” said Schilling, who is 4-4 with a 3.66 ERA in nine career starts against Baltimore. “It was a very small strike zone. Anytime you have to go against either of these lineups and the strike zone is smaller than you’re used to, you have to make adjustments.
It was his worst performance since allowing six runs in his return to the rotation Aug. 25 against Kansas City—a span of 16 starts.
Bruce Chen (0-4, 8.42), Baltimore’s starter on Tuesday, has been even worse.
Chen has not had the type of season he envisioned after a breakthrough performance in 2005. Chen went 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA last year, establishing career highs in wins, innings pitched (197 1-3) and strikeouts (133).
This season has been a disaster for the left-hander. He was winless in six starts and pitched out of the bullpen against the Red Sox on May 7, his last appearance
Chen has allowed at least five runs in three of his starts and given up 11 home runs. In his one-game stint in the bullpen, he gave up a run and two hits in one inning of relief during a 10-3 loss to Boston.
Chen missed his scheduled start last Thursday because of a rainout, but is ready to take the mound.
“There’s nothing I can do. I can’t just cry,” he said. “Let the guys who are pitching good for us be on the schedule.”
Chen is 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA in nine appearances against Boston. He took the loss against the Red Sox when Schilling won on April 8.
Miguel Tejada homered for the third straight game Monday to account for the Orioles’ lone run. With a loss in this contest, Baltimore would match its longest skid against one team since dropping 13 straight to Toronto from April 1999 through May 2000.