The only thing bigger than the 6-foot-7, 258-pound Orioles starter is his fastball: a loud, terrifying pitch that ranges between 95-99 mph that Cabrera has had slightly more success locating than the hitters whose job it is to see it.
"Every time you face him," said Red Sox infielder Eric Hinske, who has 10 strikeouts in 21 at-bats against Cabrera, "you've got to be ready to go."
In 2006, Cabrera walked a staggering 5.34 batters per nine innings, but he improved after a short midseason stint in the Minors. Cabrera finished the year by throwing a complete-game one-hitter at Yankee Stadium, and he has allowed just seven walks in four starts this year, yielding a 4.10 ERA.
The Red Sox face Cabrera at Camden Yards on Wednesday, a day after dropping two games in a row at home against the Blue Jays. Seeking to break Boston's recent spell of poor pitching performances is Red Sox ace Curt Schilling, in many ways Cabrera's polar opposite.
Sure, it wasn't long ago that Schilling's heater ranked with the hardest in baseball. But now, the 40-year-old starter succeeds more on guile and command. His fastball now hovers around 90, but Schilling's selling point has always been his remarkable control.
Throwing strikes can make pitchers amenable to homers, which wreak limited havoc if runners stay off the bases. Occasionally, as Schilling saw when he allowed two home runs on Friday to the Yankees' scalding Alex Rodriguez -- including one with two runners on -- hitters manage to touch him with the long ball.
What will Wednesday bring?
Schilling has a 5.28 career ERA in 30 2/3 career innings at Camden Yards, a number that has been fueled by hits and home runs. If the Red Sox's ace turns around the team ship, which has entered the dangerous waters of high pitch counts and long games in recent days, it will be because he performed like the pitcher he has been for 20 years, and the pitcher that Cabrera is hoping to become.
BOS: RHP Curt Schilling (2-1, 3.81 ERA)
Schilling has a 5-4 record with a 4.00 ERA in 69 2/3 innings overall against Baltimore, but he has allowed no more than one home run to any current Oriole. Six members of the Baltimore 25-man roster, including pitcher Steve Trachsel, have taken Schilling deep. A seventh, catcher Ramon Hernandez, is on the 15-day disabled list.
Cabrera, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic, boasts one of baseball's hardest fastballs. The bonus for Cabrera: He's been able to keep it under control in 2007. At the same time, his batting average against has leapt to .277 (it was .241 last season). Cabrera has been shelled in 33 career innings vs. the Red Sox, against whom he has issued 32 walks and compiled a 1-6 record with a 9.27 ERA. Player to watch
Mike Lowell extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a long home run -- his fourth of the season -- over the Green Monster on Tuesday night. In his only career appearance against Cabrera, Lowell went 3-for-4 with a home run. On the Internet
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WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Español) Up next
Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 4-0, 2.55) at Orioles (LHP Adam Loewen, 2-0, 3.72), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: Red Sox (RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2-2, 4.00) at Yankees (RHP Jeff Karstens, 0-1, 14.54), 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 2-2, 2.08) at Yankees (LHP Kei Igawa, 1-1, 7.84), 3:55 p.m. ET