With 11 games remaining, the Orioles are closing in on their first playoff berth since 1997. The O's are one game behind the Yankees in the American League East and top the AL Wild Card standings. But Baltimore understands there is still work to be done.
"We haven't really accomplished anything yet," Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said. "Yes, we are going to win more than we lose. But we want to win the division -- and if we don't win the division, we certainly want to be in the playoffs."
Baltimore has won six in a row overall, and 10 of 14 against Boston this season. The O's have been even better at Fenway, where they are 7-1, and lead the AL with 45 wins on the road.
"Some years in baseball, everything seems to work -- and other times, no matter what you do, it doesn't work," Duquette said. "A lot of things we've done this year have worked out for the team."
Starter Chris Tillman is one of those things that have worked out for the Orioles. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 3.57 ERA over his last 10 outings. He's 8-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts after going 10-15 over his first three seasons as a member of Baltimore's rotation.
Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront is also having his best season as a full-time starter. Doubront improved to 11-9 with a victory against the Rays in his last outing, his first victory since July 18. The southpaw is second on the club with 146 strikeouts in 147 innings.
"I just want to finish strong," Doubront said. "I think, for now, I'm getting back my confidence."
Doubront faces the Orioles for the second time this year. He fanned nine over six innings on May 22 at Camden Yards, but took the loss after allowing two runs in the 4-1 defeat.
Orioles: Andino could return on Sunday
Second baseman Robert Andino was held out of the lineup on Saturday after he was hit on the helmet by a pitch with two outs in the ninth inning on Friday. He will have to pass a concussion test before Sunday's game in order to be cleared to play.
"It got him in the earflap and the neck some, he had a pretty good welt there," manager Buck Showalter said on Saturday. "He's not happy today, not playing. But as soon as he passes the concussion test -- they are going to come over and administer it [before Sunday's game] -- I'm hoping we get good results from that and he's back in the lineup [on Sunday]."
Andino was plunked by a 94-mph fastball from Mark Melancon. The infielder was visibly upset and took a few steps toward the mound before making his way to first base, where he was removed for pinch-runner Omar Quintanilla. Following Andino's exit, home-plate umpire Mark Wegner issued warnings to both clubs.
Andino was 2-for-2 with a walk on Friday, and is hitting .213 with seven homers and 26 RBIs this season.
Red Sox: Saltalamacchia enjoying breakout season
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is second among AL catchers with 24 home runs this season, and his 56 RBIs are tied for his career high.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine sees similarities between Saltalamacchia and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. In his fourth season, Wieters is hitting .254 with 22 homers and a career-high 82 RBIs. Saltalamacchia is in his sixth year, and Valentine believes the switch-hitter has not yet reached his peak.
"I think he's one little step away from being an extremely productive offensive player," Valentine said. "I mean, right now, you'd have to think his season is comparable with Wieters, who people are thinking is an MVP of, or close to an MVP of a playoff team. That's just how close he is, I think."
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Saturday with what Valentine has termed a "little situation."
The Red Sox are being cautious with Ellsbury, though it's believed to be just a nagging injury. It appears the outfielder won't return until Tuesday at the earliest.
"Oh gosh, I have no idea," Valentine said. "We'll probably be conservative and cautious. But when he's ready to play, we'd love to have him play."
Boston is 20-24 in day games this year, while Baltimore leads the AL at 29-14.
The Orioles won their first season series against the Red Sox since 2004 (10-9).