Game 53: Phillies at Red Sox - Back on top

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

The Boston Red Sox (32-20) took over sole possession of first place in the AL East with a 9-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies (24-27) on Memorial Day. The two conclude the Fenway Park portion of this four-game home-and-home series tonight. There are a lot of wins on the mound in this evening’s contest. In fact, there are 256 career Ws, as the Sox Ryan Dempster (126) and Phillies Cliff Lee (130) prepare to face each other on another perfect night in Boston.

Here is Boston’s lineup (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

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

Dempster, P

Lee is 5-2 with a 2.48 ERA this season. The lefty is coming off his first shutout since 2011, allowing three hits and two walks with five strikeouts in a 3-0 win against the Marlins. In four starts in May, Lee has allowed six earned runs and is 3-1, with his only loss coming May 1 against Cleveland.

Bats go south against southpaws
The Red Sox have been on fire lately, winning four in a row and scoring an average of 7.5 runs during the streak. However, against lefty pitchers this season, Boston is just hitting .240 as a team and Lee is one of the best in the bigs. Jonny Gomes is 2-for-29 against Lee in his career and David Ortiz is 6-for-29. Neither has homered off Lee. One plus from the recent Sox surge is Jacoby Ellsbury seeming to find his swing. He is 9-for-24 (.375) over his last six games and went 3-for-5 with two doubles in Monday’s win. If he continues to stay hot and provides the spark the Red Sox need at the top of the lineup, it may carry over through the rest of the order.

A different Dempster
Dempster is trying to get in the win column for the first time since May 2 when he beat the Blue Jays. In his last four starts, Dempster has given up a total of 19 runs (17 earned) in 19.2 innings. He is 0-3 in those starts. Dempster seemed to be settling in nicely following the 3-1 win over the Jays. He was 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA at that point, but has had issues since. There hasn’t been much chatter as to what pitching coach Juan Nieves and manager John Farrell are doing to work with Dempster, but the fact is he hasn’t been the same in his last four outings.

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