If there is any silver lining to getting swept in Texas it’s that the Boston Red Sox (20-11) are coming home to play seven games against Minnesota (13-14) and Toronto (11-21). Sounds like just what the doctor ordered for the slumping Sox. Boston still holds a 1.5-game lead over New York (18-12) and Baltimore (19-13). Clay Buchholz goes for his seventh win in as many starts tonight. Buchholz has been the most consistent starter in the Red Sox rotation, sporting a 1.01 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.
Here is tonight’s lineup (first pitch - 7:10 pm EDT):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Nava, LF
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Drew, SS
Minnesota counters with Vance Worley on the mound. Worley has struggled mightily this season. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 7.22 ERA in six starts.
All eyes will be on Buchholz’ left forearm and right hand, more specifically when he touches his right index and middle fingers to that left forearm. Toronto announcers pointed out that Buch seemed to be touch a “shiny” area of his forearm and applying an unknown substance to the baseball (which would be illegal). From what I saw, it appeared he mixed rosin with sweat/water to create a sticky substance in order to get a grip on the ball (which is not illegal). He also appeared to wipe whatever it was off via rubbing his pants each time he touched his forearm, so there was no “applying” anything to the ball. It will be interesting to watch if Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota’s manager, asks for Buchholz to be checked tonight. And in gamesmanship, expect all Twins pitchers to be checked as well.
Home sweet home
The Red Sox return to Fenway Park, where they currently have a five-game winning streak. They are 11-5 overall at home this season. With seven games against sub-.500 competition inside the friendly confines, Red Sox Nation should have good vibes despite the poor showing in Texas.
Heart of the lineup
Boston’s 3-6 hitters went a combined 7-for-41 in the Texas series; perhaps part of the reason why the Red Sox only scored four runs in three games against the Rangers. Really it was four runs in two games, as they were shut out in the opener. If Boston wants to get back on track, then Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and whoever is in the six-hole will need to regain their form of the first 28 games when Boston was 20-8.
25 and counting…
Ortiz has now hit safely in 25 straight games. Big Papi hit an absolute missile for a home run in Sunday’s game during the first inning. As hot as he has been, he has cooled off just a bit, with just one hit in each of his last four games. During that span, his batting average has dropped 60 points, from .500 to .440. Still not a bad place to be for the 37-year-old recovering from heel/foot problems.
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