Game 85: Padres at Red Sox - Sox staying hot at home

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Another month of the season has come and gone, but one thing remains the same: The Boston Red Sox are the American League’s best team. At 50-34 over halfway through the season, the Red Sox, who normally heat up during July and August, have a chance to propel themselves into the category of not only postseason bound, but World Series contender. We haven’t quite hit the All-Star Break and the trades are just now beginning to hit the boards, so we here at RedSoxLife will refrain from categorizing these Red Sox like that just yet.

The Sox open a three-game Interleague series with the San Diego Padres (40-43) at Fenway Park over the Fourth of July holiday. A series sweep would be critical as Boston heads west immediately following Wednesday’s game for a 10-gamer on the West Coast against the surging Angels, Mariners and Athletics. The Red Sox have won five of their last six games, all at home and hold a 2.5-game lead over the Orioles in the AL East. On top of that, Boston is 28-16 at home this season, with a chance to be the first team in the Majors to reach 30 home wins. John Lackey, who may be the best pitcher in the Sox rotation recently, takes the ball tonight. Lackey is 5-5 with a 2.99 ERA, but has posted three straight starts of seven innings and two runs allowed in each, including a 12-strikeout performance in his latest outing against the Rockies.

Here is the lineup for the Red Sox (first pitch – 7:05 pm EDT):

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

Lackey, P

Rookie Robbie Erlin makes his third start of the season. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and held the Phillies to three runs in 6.1 innings in his most recent start last Wednesday. The lefty is the Padres No. 8-ranked prospect.

Leading the pack
The Red Sox rank among MLB’s best in nearly all offensive categories. Boston is first in Runs (431), RBI (420), OBP (.349), OPS (.793) and Doubles (184). They are second in the league in Batting Average (.276), Slugging Percentage (.444), Hits (798), and Triples (23). If you were keeping track, you noticed one offensive category was missing: Home Runs. The Sox are tied for 10th in MLB with 86 homers. The Orioles lead MLB with 115 and three of the top five home run teams are from the AL East.

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