Game 71: Red Sox at Orioles - Lester looks to rebound

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

A much-needed win Saturday sets up the opportunity for a series split and a chance to leave Baltimore with the largest lead in the AL East for the Red Sox this season. And on the mound is Jon Lester. Tough to beat that, right?

The Boston Red Sox (42-28) go into today’s game against the Baltimore Orioles (39-30) looking to leave with a 3.5-game lead over the Os, just where they started to begin the series. The New York Yankees (37-31) have lost five straight, but fallen just one game in the standings from 3.0 to 4.0 back. That means a Red Sox win, no matter what the Yanks do, will put Boston 3.5 ahead of second place, the largest lead the Sox will have had this season. Of course, a loss moves Baltimore back to within 1.5 games and gives the Sox their first series loss since May 20-22 (Chicago White Sox).

Lester hopes to turn around his recent struggles and prevent Boston from losing the series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He is 6-3 with a 4.12 ERA, but began the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. He is 0-3 in his last five starts, just one quality start, and a 6.90 ERA during that span.

Here is the Red Sox lineup for the Father’s Day contest (first pitch – 1:35 pm EDT):

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

Lester, P

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 3.71 ERA this season. He and his wife are expecting a baby and she is scheduled to give birth Wednesday, but the Os are planning in case he has to leave early.

Ring-a-round the infield
Jose Iglesias extended his team-high hitting streak to 16 games with a single Saturday. He’s hitting .447 on the year and gets his first start at second base, the first time anyone has started at second in place of Dustin Pedroia this season. Iglesias has started at his natural shortstop position and recently at third base. He has played some at second in the late innings of blowout games, but with Pedey needing a day off, John Farrell slotted Iggy there, and also put him at second in the batting order, a new spot for the hot-hitting Iglesias.

Speaking of Pedroia…
The Red Sox clubhouse must be loving this one. A day after making an error for the first time all season (70 games), Pedroia has been benched. OK, so that’s not all true, but Pedroia does have the day off, also his first of the season, and the coincidence that it comes after his first error is hilarious. That error was his first since Aug. 29, 2012, a 97-game errorless streak. Pedroia has only missed 10 innings of this season. Barring a pinch-hit spot late in the game today, he will nearly equal that total, missing nine innings (or more if extra innings).

Mini-season No. 7
The finale of the seventh mini-season was a “W” for the Red Sox. Boston went 6-4 over the last 10 games, giving it six winning mini-seasons out of seven. The Sox have a .600 win percentage, putting them on pace for roughly 97 wins. Here’s how they have done over the 10-game stretches through 70 games.

1) 6-4
2) 7-3
3) 7-3
4) 3-7
5) 7-3
6) 6-4
7) 6-4

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