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Red Sox Vs. Orioles Lineups: Sox Turn To Josh Beckett To Stop Slide

The Red Sox will turn to Josh Beckett Wednesday night, hoping for a big win that--with the Rays having already dropped the first half of their doubleheader--could prove vital to securing their playoff spot.

With their defeat at the hands of Hector Noesi, the Rays are now 2.5 games back in the wild card race, and still have to face CC Sabathia in the nightcap. Should the Red Sox win and the Rays lose, that would move Boston's lead to 3.5 games with just six games left to play (seven for the Rays). Just to give an example, if Boston could manage even just a 2-4 record in their remaining contests, the Rays would need to go 6-1 to force a one-game playoff.

Of course, even with all the pitching matchups so perfectly aligned, that's a pretty big if. After all, these Red Sox have found ways to lose time and again in September, even when things seemed to be going entirely their way. Time after time, there was just enough wrong to lead to ruin.

What they need now is another one of those major blowouts that seem to be the only way they win. A shutdown outing from Beckett, and a double-digit performance from the offense. A win so certain that no individual mistake can possibly ruin it.

The offense in question will be...curious, with Mike Aviles batting second not to let Dustin Pedroia clean up, but in order to let him hit fifth. Personell-wise, however, the only anomaly will be Jason Varitek, who makes his usual start behind the plate with Beckett on the mound.

Boston Red Sox (88-67)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Mike Aviles, 3B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. David Ortiz, DH
  5. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  6. Josh Reddick, RF
  7. Carl Crawford, LF
  8. Marco Scutaro, SS
  9. Jason Varitek, C

Baltimore Orioles (64-90)

  1. Rick Andino, 2B
  2. J.J. Hardy, SS
  3. Nick Markakis, RF
  4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
  5. Matt Wieters, C
  6. Adam Jones, CF
  7. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  8. Chris Davis, 3B
  9. Matt Angle, LF

Pitching Matchup: Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50 ERA) vs. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81 ERA)

Josh Beckett's last start--his first in 11 days--wasn't the cleanest the Sox' ace has seen so far this season, but it was strong all-the-same, and given how the Sox were performing against the Rays at the time, anything short of disaster has to be seen as a rousing success. Oddly, though, Baltimore has been one of the few teams to really give Beckett trouble this year; they've twice held him shy of a quality start so far.

Tommy Hunter hasn't exactly lived up to his Texas performance since joining Baltimore, and that shouldn't really be any big surprise. Hunter's style of pitching to contact may have worked with players like Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus behind him, but with Baltimore's sieve-like defense, it's no wonder that he's seen such a sharp drop off. If the Sox take what he gives them, there's no reason that they shouldn't be able to score a good few runs.