The Boston Red Sox lead the Majors with 24 series wins this season. They won’t be able to pick up No. 25 but they can earn a split with the Kansas City Royals and after losing the first two games, that would feel like a win.
Boston (71-48) and John Lackey will try to do just that today in their finale of the season against Kansas City (60-54). Lackey, who is 7-9 with a 3.21 ERA in 20 starts, would like to get the offensive performance the Sox have shown that past two nights. His team is giving him an average of 3.45 runs per start and that lack of run support is a partial reason why Lackey is under .500 this season. In his last two starts, he has pitched 13 innings and given up five runs, but received a no-decision and a loss. He has not won since his last start before the All-Star Break (July 12).
Here is the Red Sox lineup today (first pitch – 2:10 pm EDT):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Nava, LF
6. Napoli, 1B
7. Drew, SS
8. Lavarnway, C
9. Middlebrooks, 3B
Old AL East rival James Shields will try to shut down the Boston lineup today. Shields did so in his only other start against the Red Sox this season, giving up one run in six innings with eight strikeouts back in April. He is 6-8 with a 3.36 ERA and gave up seven runs in on eight hits in six innings against the Twins in a loss his last outing.
Running through Ells
It’s no secret the Red Sox offense starts at the top. When Jacoby Ellsbury is on, so too is the rest of the team – or so it seems. Ellsbury went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI Saturday. He raised his average back above .300 to .305 and stole his MLB leading 42nd base. Ellsbury is hitting the final month-and-a-half of his contract and would like a big payday this offseason, so expect to see him continue to play lights out the rest of the year.
This and that
Will Middlebrooks had two RBI and two runs in his first game back with the big club. His contributions were timely and something the Red Sox and their fans hope to see out of him going forward … Stephen Drew knocked an RBI-double to extend his season-best hitting streak to 11 games … Koji Uehara earned his 12th save with a perfect ninth inning. Uehara has now tied a career-best mark of 16.0 straight scoreless innings, and has only allowed one unearned run since July 1.
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