The Sox return home for a seven-game homestand, starting Tuesday with a three-game set against the Orioles, who are also off on Monday.
The O's (30-24) have dropped nine of 12 and out of first place in the American League East, while the Sox (28-26) are above .500, which was not the case the last time these two teams met. Baltimore just lost two of three to first-place Tampa Bay (31-23), while the Red Sox took two of three from Toronto (28-26). The O's are in second place, while the Sox are tied for last with Toronto, but the entire division is separated by just three games and has Monday off.
The Red Sox should have a boost on Tuesday from the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has not played since May 28 because of a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb, but he expects to be in the lineup at Fenway. Pedroia has a brace on the thumb and was almost needed on Saturday when shortstop Mike Aviles was hit on the throwing hand.
"The good thing is he feels good," manager Bobby Valentine said. "When Mike got hit with that ball, [Pedroia] was ready to go out in the field. I wasn't really hesitant. So we'll see."
Left-hander Jon Lester is scheduled to start for the Sox after three straight subpar outings, during which he's allowed 15 runs in 16 2/3 innings. He has never lost to the Orioles, going 14-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 19 starts against them. The one time he faced Baltimore this year, in a 6-4 loss on May 4, Lester allowed three runs in six innings of a no-decision.
O's righty Jason Hammel gave up four home runs, all solo, in his last start, a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays that made him raise an eyebrow.
"They were taking some pretty big hacks on my breaking stuff, too, which leads me to believe something else," Hammel said. "The swings they were taking on the breaking stuff was pretty amazing to me. I don't think you can take swings like that, not knowing they're coming. I don't know, that's all I can say. ... There's rumors and things like that, I don't know. I can't speak on that, but they were taking very, very strong hacks on breaking stuff. It's something I've never seen before."
Orioles: Johnson wins monthly award
Closer Jim Johnson was named the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month for May. He converted all nine of his save opportunities in the month and is tied for the Major League lead with 17 this season. He has 25 straight conversions since Aug. 14, 2011.
Steve Johnson was officially placed on the 40-man roster on Sunday, and he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. The move keeps Johnson from opting out of his contract and possibly leaving the organization.
Red Sox: Besides Draft, decisions await
If outfielders Darnell McDonald (oblique) and Cody Ross (broken bone in foot) are to return in the near future, the Sox will have to make corresponding roster moves. Playing time for Will Middlebrooks is also a factor, and if it decreases too much, it'd be hard to keep him on the big league roster. Reports, meanwhile, have Kevin Youkilis' trade market growing.
"There's not a lot of hypothetical talk," manager Bobby Valentine said of the roster situation. "There's talk about where we are and what we have at this present time. I guess [general manager] Ben [Cherington] is having a lot of, you know, thoughts, about the roster, because the roster is pretty complicated. It's going to continue to be challenging."
Red Sox righty Vicente Padilla has recorded a hold in a club-record 10 straight outings dating to May 11. That matches the longest consecutive holds streak in Major League history for the third time, the first since the Nationals' Tyler Clippard's run from May 31 to June 22, 2011.