Red Sox Look to Leave Kansas City With Series Split

Red Sox Look to Leave Kansas City With Series SplitThe Red Sox avoided losing the series against the Royals with a 9-2 win in Kansas City on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Red Sox will look to leave Kauffman Stadium with a series split behind the arm of Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz makes an important start in the series finale against the Royals, looking to solidify his role as the No. 3 starter. Depending on how Buchholz fares on Thursday, the Red Sox will have a better idea of how they will set up their rotation come October.

When and Where

8:10 p.m. ET (NESN), Sept. 24, 2009
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

RECORDS

Red Sox (90-61, 2nd  place in AL East)
Royals (63-89, 4th place in AL Central)

HEAD TO HEAD

The Red Sox overcame an early two-run deficit in Kansas City to earn their first win in the series. The victory gave the Sox their 90th win of the season, and Josh Beckett his 16th win. The win also gives the Sox a 4-3 season series edge, with the finale Thursday.

SKINNY

The Red Sox have won 10 of their last 14 games against the Royals since the start of the 2008 season. They have also won 13 of 19 games going back to April 4, 2007. Since the start of the 2002 season, the Sox are 33-19 against K.C. But in K.C., the Sox are 90-116 all-time, including 80-102 at Kauffman Stadium. The Sox go for the series split Thursday. The Sox have won or split the season set against the Royals in seven of the last eight seasons since 2001, losing (4-5) only in 2006.

STARTING LINEUPS

Red Sox Royals
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF David DeJesus, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Mitch Maier, CF
Victor Martinez, C Billy Butler, 1B
Jason Bay, LF Mike Jacobs, DH
David Ortiz, DH Alberto Callaspo, 2B
Mike Lowell, 3B Mark Teahen, RF
Casey Kotchman, 1B Miguel Olivo, C
Josh Reddick, RF Alex Gordon, 3B
Alex Gonzalez, SS Yuniesky Bettancourt, SS

STARTING PITCHERS

RHP Clay Buchholz (6-3, 3.49 ERA) vs. RHP Anthony Lerew (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Buchholz pitched his fifth straight quality starts in his last outing, Sept. 18 in Baltimore, allowing one run  on five hits and three walks in six innings, with a season-low one strikeout. This is his second career start against the Royals. In his last start, he took the loss in Kansas City on Aug. 4, 2008, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks, with four strikeouts in six innings.  

Lerew is making his first big league start and appearance of the season after being called up from Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday. It will be his 12th career major league appearance, fourth start overall, and second start against the Sox. Originally selected by the Braves in the 11th round of the 2001 draft, Lerew signed as a minor league free agent with the Royals in March. He missed parts of the 2007 and 2008 seasons after Tommy John surgery. Lerew was 10-6 with Northwest Arkansas this season, including 3-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his final five starts. Lerew last pitched in the big leagues on May 19, 2007, with the Braves, starting against the Sox at Fenway Park. He lasted just two innings, and was charged with three runs on five hits, two home runs and two walks.

STAT SHEET

Red Sox
Terry Francona has 560 wins with the Red Sox, tying him for second with Mike "Pinky" Higgins (1955-59, 1960-62) on the team’s all-time wins list among managers. Joe Cronin (1935-47) leads all Red Sox managers with 1,071.

The Sox have reached 90 wins for the third straight season, seventh in the last eight years, and ninth in 12 years since 1998. In that time, only the Yankees have more 90-win seasons, with 10.

Since Aug. 18, Red Sox batters are second in the majors with a .291 average (trailing only the Yankees' .307) and first in runs scored with 215. The Sox’ 52 home runs in that span are the most in the majors.

The Sox lead the majors with 81 home runs since July 30. They have homered in 29 of their last 37 games since Aug. 14, with 58 total in that time.

Victor Martinez has a 22-game hitting streak since Aug. 28, batting .349 (29-for-83) with 16 RBIs in that time. It is the longest active streak in the majors.

Dustin Pedroia has a 15-game hitting streak, batting .373 (22-for-59) with three home runs and eight RBIs. It is his longest hitting streak since a career-high 17-gamer from June 22-July 9, 2008, and the second-longest active streak in baseball to Martinez’s.

With his 80th walk of the season Tuesday, J.D. Drew joined Dwight Evans (seven times) Jackie Jensen (four) and Ted Williams (one) as the only right fielders in Red Sox history to record 20 home runs and 80 walks in a season.

Royals
The Royals have won 12 of their last 16 games and are 13-8 in September.

Closer Joakim Soria has 29 saves in 32 opportunities.

Alberto Callaspo leads the Royals with a .301 average.

Miguel Olivo leads the Royals with 23 home runs.

Billy Butler leads the Royals with 85 RBIs and a .358 on-base percentage.

The Royals are 13th in the AL with 645 runs scored and 13th  with a .259 team average.

BLACK AND BLUE

Red Sox
Right-hander Junichi Tazawa was placed on the 60-day DL on Monday with a mild left groin strain.

Tim Wakefield has been dealing with an ailing back and is expected to make his next start Tuesday

Royals
Shortstop Mike Aviles has been on the DL since May 23 with a right elbow injury.

Left-hander Bruce Chen was placed on the DL on Wednesday with a torn left oblique.

Outfielder Coco Crisp has been on the DL since June 14 after surgery for a right labrum tear.

Outfielder Jose Guillen has been on the DL since Sept. 18 with right hamstring and knee injuries.

Right-hander Doug Waechter has been on the DL since Aug. 13 with a right shoulder strain.

THIS DATE IN RED SOX HISTORY

In 1940, Jimmie Foxx hit his 500th career home run off  Philadelphia A's pitcher George Caster at Shibe Park. Foxx’s homer  was one of four hit in the inning, setting an AL mark.

OVERHEARD

"I definitely think I threw the ball better than I have in a while. I think they had eight ground ball hits. That means I'm keeping the ball down. I felt like I had a good sinker."
– Josh Beckett on Wednesday’s win over the Royals

PRESS BOX

Red Sox
The Sox reached 90 wins with the win over the Royals.

Josh Beckett and Victor Martinez paired up for just the second time.

David Ortiz is making some September noise.

Royals
The Royals couldn’t hold an early lead.

Lerew will make his first start of the season in the series finale.

Kyle Davies is likely done for the season.

MLB

Brian Cashman wants Joba to "step it up."

ESPN.com takes a look at several young players whose careers have reached a crossroads.

Bobby Cox plans to retire after next season.

OUTLOOK

The Red Sox look for Clay Buchholz to continue his string of strong outings. Another good showing would help to secure Buchholz’s place as the third starter in the playoffs. Victor Martinez will look to extend his hitting streak, already the best active streak in the majors. Dustin Pedroia will look to extend his, second only to Martinez’s streak.

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