BALTIMORE -- What in the name of William Nathaniel Showalter is going on here?
Son of a Buck, those are the Baltimore Orioles closing in fast on the Red Sox, who mathematically face the possibility of looking up at Showalter's O's in the American League East by the end of the weekend.
The Orioles drew within 1½ games of the Sox in the AL East with an impressive 2-0 shutdown of the team that came to town as the highest-scoring team in the majors but was shut out on three hits Friday night.
The shutout defeat was the fourth of the season for the Sox, who went hitless in the last six innings of Thursday's 5-4 marathon loss to the Orioles and managed just a single and double by Jose Iglesias and a single by Shane Victorino on Friday night.
Since scoring 10 runs in a 14-inning win in the first game of this trip, the Sox have scored a total of nine runs in their last 40 innings, resulting in three losses in their last four games.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have seemingly mastered the art of beating the Red Sox, a skill they first demonstrated with devastating effectiveness on the last day of the 2011 season, when the Curse of the Andino struck and the Sox went home for the winter instead of advancing to the playoffs.
The Orioles have won four of five from the Sox this season, went 13-5 against the Sox last season and have won five straight series and eight of their last nine. The Orioles have not lost consecutive games against the Sox in their last 32 meetings.
Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 22nd home run off Sox starter Ryan Dempster in the second inning, and Dempster gave up another run in the third on a walk, single and infield squibber by Adam Jones.
That's all Chris Tillman and three Orioles relievers would need against the Sox, who were playing without first baseman Mike Napoli, out with an unexplained illness that has left him lightheaded. The Sox put runners on first and third with one out in the fourth when Mike Carp walked, took second on an infield out and advanced to third on a bunt single by Iglesias. But Will Middlebrooks flied out to shallow right and David Ross struck out.
Boston does not have a hit in their last 10⅔ innings against the Orioles' bullpen, which is more than the equivalent of a regulation-length no-hitter.