The Juan Samuel era in Baltimore didn't exactly get off to a desired start on Friday. The new Orioles manager and his team figure to have their hands full again in this evening's clash with the Boston Red Sox, who'll send out Jon Lester to the Camden Yards mound in hopes of continuing his career-long dominance in this series.
Samuel was named the Orioles' interim skipper after the team fired Dave Trembley shortly after Thursday's 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees. The defeat was Baltimore's eighth in a row and dropped the club to a major-league worst 15-39 on the season.
That skid grew to nine games in Friday's opener of this three-game set, with the surging Red Sox handing the O's an 11-0 drubbing in Samuel's debut. Clay Buchholz went the distance on five-hitter to become the American League's second eight-game winner this season, while Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro all homered in the rout.
Buchholz (8-3) needed just 101 pitches to record his second career shutout, with the first coming against the Orioles on September 1, 2007. In that game, the 25-year-old fired a no-hitter in only his second major league start.
The right-hander struck out two and walked only one in joining Tampa Bay's David Price as the first AL pitchers to reach the eight-win mark this year.
Youkilis finished 2-for-5 with three RBI and both Beltre and J.D. Drew knocked in a pair of runs for Boston, which prevailed for the fifth time in its last six games and has gone 13-4 since May 18. The Red Sox pounded out 16 hits on the evening, with Scutaro and Victor Martinez each collecting three for the game.
"I feel like every time I go out we score a lot of runs," Buchholz said. "It's not like I'm going out and throwing a 1-0 ball game every time I go out. Like I said, guys are swinging it, and it's fun to be out there."
Orioles starter Chris Tillman failed to make it out of the second inning and was tagged for four runs on five hits.
Baltimore has now lost nine straight for the second time this season, having previously done so from April 9-17. The team's last double-digit slide took place from September 17-30, 2009, when the Orioles dropped 13 in a row under Trembley.
The prospects for ending that winless drought appear bleak tonight, considering Lester owns a 10-0 record and a 2.22 earned run average in his 13 career starts against Baltimore. The Red Sox have won 12 of those contests.
The talented left-hander is also coming on a major role, having ripped off six consecutive winning decisions and recording a stellar 1.43 ERA over his last eight trips to the mound. Over that span, Lester has also struck out 63 batters in 56 2/3 innings.
That remarkable stretch began when Lester spun 5 2/3 shutout innings in a no- decision against the Orioles at Fenway Park on April 23. He won his third straight start this past Sunday against Kansas City, holding the Royals to one run on four hits in a seven-inning stint.
Lester will be attempting to give Boston its seventh consecutive road victory this evening, which would be the club's longest such streak since a seven- gamer from June 12-26, 2005.
Jeremy Guthrie gets the call for Baltimore in Samuel's second game and has pitched respectably this season, having posted a 3.84 ERA in 11 starts. The right-hander is coming off a loss in his last outing, however, after being reached for four runs in six innings at Toronto last Sunday.
Prior to that setback, Guthrie had gone 3-0 with an impressive 1.35 ERA over a four-start string from May 8-25.
The former first-round pick is just 1-5 with a 4.72 ERA in 13 lifetime games (12 starts) against Boston and did not factor in the decision of a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox back on April 23. Guthrie worked the first six innings and permitted three runs on five hits.
Baltimore had won four straight over the Sox before Friday's setback, including a three-game sweep at Camden Yards from April 30-May 2. Boston is 28-8 against the Orioles in the last 36 meetings between these AL Central foes, however.