The Red Sox are hoping that their win Saturday night can be a springboard for success before they embark on a 10-game West Coast road trip.
Before making the trek west, though, there’s still some work to be done at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will close out a four-game series with the Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
The Red Sox won their first game of the second half Saturday night when Kevin Youkilis hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th. Youkilis hit also hit an RBI double to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth off of Cliff Lee, who had dominated the Red Sox all night.
Helping the Sox’ confidence, left-handed ace Jon Lester will take the mound looking to win his 12th game of the season.
WHEN AND WHERE
Rangers (52-39) at Red Sox (52-39) Sunday, July 18, 1:35 p.m. Fenway Park, Boston
HEAD TO HEAD
The Rangers have won three of their last four at Fenway Park.
LHP C.J. Wilson (7-5, 3.35 ERA) vs. LHP Jon Lester (11-3, 2.78 ERA)
It’s a battle of left-handers in the series finale. For the Red Sox, Jon Lester will look to continue another impressive season. Lester was named an All-Star and last worked in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, pitching a scoreless inning. The big lefty was 3-0 in his three final starts before the break, putting up a 1.64 ERA while striking out 22 during that stretch.
Wilson beat the Red Sox on April 22, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings and surrendering four hits while striking out two. He’s been up and down all year and comes into Sunday’s start a loser in two of his last three starts.
1. Marco Scutaro, SS 2. Darnell McDonald, RF 3. David Ortiz, DH 4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B 5. Adrian Beltre, 3B 6. Mike Cameron, CF 7. Bill Hall, 2B 8. Daniel Nava, LF 9. Dusty Brown, C
1. Elvis Andrus, SS 2. Michael Young, 3B 3. Ian Kinsler, 2B 4. Vladimir Guerrero, LF 5. Josh Hamilton, DH 6. Nelson Cruz, RF 7. Chris Davis, 1B 8. Matt Treanor, C 9. Julio Borbon, CF
The Red Sox win Saturday night was their first all year when trailing after eight innings, improving their record to 1-31 when doing so.
Pitcher John Lackey made another quality start Saturday night — his 12th — which ties him for the most on the Red Sox with Lester.
Darnell McDonald has hit safely in 21 of 26 games he’s started against left-handed pitchers.
After giving up a run in the first inning Saturday night, Cliff Lee has now given up 10 first-inning runs in his last 15 starts.
Ian Kinsler is hitting .349 (15-for-43) during his 10-game hitting streak, which he extended Saturday night with a first-inning single.
When Nelson Cruz was caught stealing in the second inning, it marked the first time in the last 35 attempts that the Rangers have been caught stealing against the Red Sox.
BLACK AND BLUE
Right-hander Josh Beckett (back) made his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, throwing 80 pitches, 50 for strikes, in four-plus innings. He allowed three runs on five hits and struck out three. It is not confirmed yet, but Beckett could join the team for the Seattle series, which begins Thursday.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz (hamstring) pitched 3 2/3 innings
and allowed two runs in a rehab start Friday for Pawtucket. He is
expected to return to the Red Sox and start Wednesday’s game at Oakland.
Catcher Jason Varitek remains sidelined with a broken right foot. He will have the foot scanned Friday and is targeting a return in early August.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had a CT scan Friday that
showed his broken left foot healing well. He was able to get rid of his
crutches and put weight on the foot but has to keep a boot on it for up
to two more weeks.
Catcher Victor Martinez was put on the DL on June 28 with a
minimally displaced fracture on the tip of his left thumb. Martinez is
eligible to return after the All-Star break but will not be activated
immediately and still may be a week or two from returning.
Outfielder Jeremy Hermida (broken rib) is rehabbing with Double-A Portland.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will head to Florida to continue his rehab from a broken rib with the club’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.
Mike Lowell was eligible to return from the DL last Friday
but was not with the team. He will receive a cortisone shot on Monday and will make a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday.
Infielder Jed Lowrie will continue his rehab stint in Pawtucket as he recovers from mononucleosis.
Righty Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He is out for the year.
Right-hander Rich Harden is due to return soon from a strained left gluteus muscle.
Lefty Derek Holland is on the DL with mild left rotator cuff inflammation.
Righty Eric Hurley is likely out for the year following two surgeries on his left wrist.
Righty Mark Lowe, acquired in the Cliff Lee trade, is out for the year following back surgery.
The win Saturday night may have been the biggest of the season for the Red Sox, but it won’t mean much if they can’t capitalize and earn a split of the series Sunday afternoon. With Jon Lester on the mound, they should like their chances, especially against the inconsistent C.J. Wilson opposing him for the Rangers.
With the West Coast trip looming, taking the final two from Texas would send the team out on its longest trip of the year with a little bit of momentum. The trip west could make or break the season, and it will be a lot easier to have a good trip if they can salvage the split Sunday afternoon with the Rangers.
Have a question for Mike Cole? Send it to him via Twitter at @MikeColeNESN.