Doug Davis vs. Jon Lester
Making his first big league start since last July, Davis gave up four hits and walked one over five innings, striking out six. He may be the temporary fix the Cubs need for the back end of the rotation. Lester has won his last five decisions and five of his last six starts. He had to battle in his last game against the Yankees, a four-run, six-inning performance. Of slight concern are the combined nine walks in his last two starts.
Carlos Zambrano vs. Alfredo Aceves
The Reds snapped Zambrano’s road winning streak at 10 games in his most recent start. He faced the Red Sox once — June 11, 2005, at Wrigley Field — when he gave up four runs on five hits over five innings. The swingman will make his first start in a Boston uniform, replacing the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka. Aceves made two starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season, posting a 5.63 ERA. He has made 11 relief appearances for the Sox, producing a 2.60 ERA.
Matt Garza vs. Tim Wakefield
Garza is very familiar with Boston after spending the last five years in the American League. The right-hander is 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 110 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. He is 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in nine career starts at Fenway Park. For the third time this month, Wakefield will make a spot start. This time, he pitches in place of John Lackey, who was placed on the DL with a right elbow strain. Wakefield recently became the oldest player to ever participate in a game for the Sox.
Troy Patterson scouts the Red Sox
Who’s Hot – On the offense it’s pretty clear that Adrian Gonzalez is the best thing going right now. The team is starting to get more consistent, but Gonzalez is what has this offense going every night. His walk rate is a bit lower than most expected, but you could say he’s trying to do more with the bat right now. As for pitchers you need look no further than Beckett and Buchholz. In his last six starts Buchholz has an ERA of 2.15 and Beckett has an ERA of 1.72 in his last 5.
Who’s Not – The other big signing has quietly slipped back into a funk and Carl Crawford has hit only .234/.250/.298 in the last two weeks. He can hide right now on this roster and while they are winning the attention will be less, but his OPS of .522 needs to be much higher by the All-Star break or things will get worse for him. As for pitching we couldn’t have a wider stretch from hot to not as John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka have left the Red Sox hunting for pitching. Whoever they get to fill their spots while on the DL couldn’t be any worse, but the team would have to hope just for a solid inning total to keep the pen fresh.
News / Notes – Outside of some curious DL decisions the team has largely been able to quite many of the questions early this season. Currently standing 2.5 games back of the Rays and only 2 behind the Yankees the team is ready to put the bad start out of memory. They could be looking to catch both teams this weekend, which could add more urgency to these games.
Prediction for the series – I’m going to say the Red Sox win the series 2-1 with Lester giving us a win in the first game and pulling a game out between the starts by Tim Wakefield or Alfredo Aceves. I think it’s more likely we win against Carlos Zambrano as Matt Garza has pitched well against the Red Sox in the past. I think defense will play in the series as well and the Red Sox have the better all around defense in this matchup.
Troy blogs about the Red Sox for Firebrand, part of the ESPN Sweet Spot Network.