Game 45: Red Sox at White Sox - All Sox, all the time

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Coming off a Twin Cities sweep, the Boston Red Sox (27-17) take their five-game win streak to the Windy City, as they start the third leg of a nine-game road trip against the Chicago White Sox (19-23) at US Cellular Field. It’s the first meeting of the season between the two different colored Sox. Boston took two-of-three in Tampa and swept the Twins in three games. Chicago is coming off a trip to Anaheim where it split a four-game series with the Angels, losing the last two 12-9 and 6-2. Jon Lester (6-0, 2.72 ERA) aims to remain unbeaten and become the first Red Sox pitcher to seven wins. He is 3-0 with a 348 ERA on the road this season.

Here is how the Red Sox will stack up tonight in the batting order (first pitch – 8:10 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Nava, LF
7. Middlebrooks, 3B
8. Drew, SS
9. Saltalamacchia, C

Lester, P

Dylan Axelrod (1-3, 4.27 ERA) could be making his final start for a while, as the White Sox will get John Danks back from the 15-day disabled list later this week. Axelrod is a candidate to move back to the bullpen, along with Hector Santiago.

Hits and runs keep on comin’
In the three-game set at Minnesota, the Red Sox slugged five home runs and had 34 hits, managing to reach double-digits in hits in each game. They outscored the Twins 20-8 and have seemingly found their groove at the plate. Notably, Will Middlebrooks is seeing the ball well, hitting his eighth home run of the season on Sunday. With his slow start to the season, Middlebrooks has been in the bottom third of Boston’s lineup much of this season. And with him heating up, that kind of production will help put pressure on opposing pitchers, making it harder to get through the lineup unharmed.

Bailey back in the bullpen
Andrew Bailey has returned from a DL stint due to biceps tightness in his right (throwing) arm. Bailey gives the Red Sox more stability at the backend and provides another arm in what is already an overworked ‘pen. He likely will be handed the ball when a save situation arises, pushing Junichi Tazawa, the interim closer, back to more of a setup role with Koji Uehara. Tazawa will likely be used to close games when Bailey needs a night off.

Checking in on the East
Toronto failed to help out the Red Sox this weekend. The Blue Jays (17-26) went into the Bronx and were beat Friday and Saturday before a rainout washed away a chance to salvage the series against the Yankees (27-16). Tampa Bay, which the Sox had just taken two of three from, went to second-place Baltimore and swept the Orioles at Camden Yards. The Rays (23-20) now head north of the border to take on Toronto. Meanwhile, the Yankees go south to battle Baltimore (23-20). The Red Sox are a half-game behind New York for first, with the Orioles and Rays both four games out and Toronto 10 games back. Another series win in Chicago and some help from the birds in Maryland could put Boston back on top of the division when the Sox return home for Memorial Day weekend.

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