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Red Sox vs. Orioles: Lester takes the mound in first half of doubleheader

Rich Schultz

Welcome to the 2015 preseason. Or Summer Training. Call it what you want.

The Red Sox and Orioles will play two Saturday afternoon, making up for a July 4th rainout with a day-night doubleheader.

Today's Lineups

BALTIMORE ORIOLES BOSTON RED SOX
Nick Markakis - RF Brock Holt - RF
Steve Pearce - 1B Daniel Nava - LF
Nelson Cruz - DH Dustin Pedroia - 2B
Adam Jones - CF Mike Napoli - 1B
Chris Davis - 3B A.J. Pierzynski - DH
J.J. Hardy - SS Xander Bogaerts - 3B
Delmon Young - LF Stephen Drew - SS
Caleb Joseph - C David Ross - C
Jonathan Schoop - 2B Jackie Bradley - CF
Miguel Gonzalez - RHP Jon Lester - LHP

There's a couple notable absences from the day half in David Ortiz and Mookie Betts. The former is apparently scheduled for the second half, having had a family commitment in the Dominican. The latter will presumably also make an appearance in the second half, though his absence will make game one that much less interesting.

Had the Red Sox taken a couple of games off the Cubs, maybe we could look at today's combo of Lester and Lackey as a legitimate chance to gain a couple of games on the division leaders. But instead of, say, five or six games back of the Orioles, the Red Sox are eight back, and there's just not enough games left before the deadline, and not enough quality in their performances to make a last-minute surge changing them from sellers into buyers at all realistic. Three days ago I said that game 86 was the first of the 2015 preseason. The last 72 hours have done little to change that.

But there's still plenty to be accomplished. Stephen Drew and A.J. Pierzynski will hopefully be able to build some trade value. Jackie Bradley Jr., Daniel Nava, and Brock Holt have some 70 opportunities left to prove they should factor prominently in next year's plans. And Jon Lester...

Well, that's an entirely more complicated situation.

First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN, WEEI, and the MLB Network.

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