After the Sox’ three-game series with the A’s concludes Wednesday, they’ll get a day off before returning to Fenway Park for four games in three days against the Yankees. From there, David Ortiz will head to Kansas City for the All-Star Game while the rest of the squad gets some time off before games resume July 13.
Although the Red Sox only managed a split in their four-game series with the Mariners last week, the pitching staff can’t be blamed too heavily for the losses — in 39 innings over four games, Sox pitchers allowed just five runs. The highlight was Aaron Cook‘s two-hit shutout Friday night, but every hurler who took the mound for Boston in the series pitched effectively.
The Red Sox may not need that pitching dominance against the A’s, whose average 3.75 runs per game ranks third-worst in the majors, but they’ll certainly need a strong showing on the mound against the Yankees, who rank sixth in MLB in runs per game and lead all of baseball with 124 home runs on the season.
Daisuke Matsuzaka will get the ball in the first game of the series against Oakland on Monday night. The 31-year-old righty is coming off his best outing of the season, allowing just one run over 5 2/3 innings while striking out five in Tuesday’s win over the Blue Jays. While Matsuzaka was denied his first victory of the season, he has shown steady improvement since his debut June 9. The next step for Dice-K is to become more economical. He threw 100 or more pitches in each of his last two outings despite not making it out of the sixth inning on either occasion.
Jon Lester gets the call in the second game of the series on Tuesday, and although the lefty did get the win in the Sox’ 10-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday his last time out, he could probably be happier after his performance. Lester lasted seven innings, but he also allowed four runs on seven hits, two of them homers. Lester hasn’t been himself this season, a shell of the pitcher who posted a 3.33 ERA and an average of 16 wins per season from 2008-2011. Lester hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in an outing since May 14, but he will look to remedy that against Oakland.
The Red Sox finish their series with the A’s on the Fourth of July, with Franklin Morales set to start for Boston. Morales threw a career-high seven scoreless innings on Thursday against the Mariners but was denied the victory thanks to a shutout by the M’s Felix Hernandez. The 26-year-old Morales has been great since moving into the rotation on June 17, posting a 2.00 ERA and holding opponents to a .206 batting average in three starts.
The Boston bullpen was again fantastic last week, allowing just two runs in 17 innings of work over the team’s last six games. Alfredo Aceves looked great on Sunday, retiring the side in order for his 19th save of the season, while Vicente Padilla extended his scoreless innings streak to 10 in the same game. Padilla ended the month of June without allowing a run in nine appearances and hasn’t been scored on since May 23 at Baltimore.
As the Sox conclude the first half of their season, who will be this week’s Amica Pitcher of the Week?