The weekend did not go as planned for the Red Sox. They face a serious challenge in trying to turn things around with a visit to The Bronx, where they will meet the rival New York Yankees for the third time this year.
After taking the opener of a three-game series in Detroit, the Sox dropped the next two in dismal fashion. They blew a five-run lead and eventually lost in extra innings Saturday before the bats went quiet in Sunday’s 5-1 setback.
The pair of losses drops Boston back to .500 and its 7 1/2-game deficit in the American League East matches a season high.
To make matters worse, the Sox will have to attempt to solve Phil Hughes on Monday. Hughes has been the most dominant starter in the AL thus far. Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his fourth start of the year for Boston.
The Yankees have won 13 of the last 16 meetings.
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-1, 6.35 ERA) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (5-0, 1.38 ERA)
Matsuzaka put it all together in his last start after struggling through parts of his first two. In an uncharacteristically clean outing, he struck out nine and did not walk a batter in seven innings of a 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The righty yielded a run on just three hits, relying heavily on an improved fastball that consistently found its spot.
Matsuzaka is 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA against the Yankees. He allowed a run in seven innings in his only previous start at the new Yankee Stadium.
Although it is early, Hughes is an early front-runner for the AL Cy Young Award. He is one of five hurlers with five wins, and leads the junior circuit in ERA, WHIP (0.92) and opponents’ batting average (.165).
|Marco Scutaro, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
J.D. Drew, RF
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jeremy Hermida, LF
Darnell McDonald, CF
|Derek Jeter, SS
Brett Gardner, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Francisco Cervelli, C
Marcus Thames, RF
Randy Winn, LF
Ramiro Pena, 3B
Matsuzaka was as efficient as he has ever been against Toronto the last time out, but the Jays are free swingers. The Yankees are anything but, and their patience always presents a problem for a pitcher like Matsuzaka, who never gives in and is not immune to nibbling.
If the righty can somehow duplicate his effort against Toronto and limit the base runners, he could give the Sox a much-needed boost. Whether or not Boston gets much against Phil Hughes is another story altogether.