"It's great for the players, and hopefully we'll get tremendous backing from the Baltimore Oriole fans," he said earlier in the week. "I think it's well deserved. Obviously, we're playing one of the top teams in baseball and we're playing them here at home. I would expect that we'd play very well -- just like I expect every time."
The Orioles have dropped two of three in each of their prior series against Boston this year and have dropped the season series in seven of the past eight years. The Red Sox took a two-game sweep at Camden Yards earlier in the season.
Boston will send Josh Beckett to the hill in the middle game, and the Orioles will counter with rookie Garrett Olson. Kevin Millar, who has been on both sides of the series, said it's been a long time since he's played on a national stage.
"When I was in Boston, we played in that game every week," he said. "We have a chance to do well, to go out there and show people our young players. They'll get a chance to see Nick Markakis on TV. It's a chance to beat the Red Sox on national television, and they're in a big pennant race right now that's getting tighter and tighter as we speak. It's a great opportunity."
Boston has led the American League East by a wide margin all season, but the hard-charging Yankees are starting to gain some ground. Manager Terry Francona addressed that fact earlier in the week during his team's series against the Angels.
"I don't claim to be a rocket scientist," he said. "I will say if the Yankees win out, we're probably not going to win. If they win the rest of their games, I bet you we're in trouble, but that's about as far as I'll go. We just need to play good baseball. That's kind of how we feel. I could say it a million different ways, but that's what we care about."
Beckett has gone 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts against Baltimore this season, and he dropped a 5-3 game against Erik Bedard in the last week of July. That was the only game the Orioles won in that series, dropping the others by a combined total of four runs. Beckett is 7-1 with a 1.52 ERA in road games and 5-1 with a 2.53 mark during the day.
"He's turned into one of the best pitchers in baseball as far as power pitchers," Millar said of Beckett. "He probably has the best curve ball in baseball. You don't see a power arm with a power curve ball like that, usually -- and with a great changeup. Beckett, man, he's tough. You've got to bring your A-game."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less