John Smoltz couldn't keep the winning streak alive on Sunday, losing to the Orioles in the finale of a three-game set. But the Red Sox turn to Josh Beckett to get them back on track Monday with the A's coming to town.
Beckett has been as good as any pitcher in the league recently, and the Red Sox will need him to dominate with the offense still having problems.
When and Where
7:10 p.m., July 27, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Red Sox (57-40, 2nd in AL East)
Athletics (41-56, 4th in AL West)
The Red Sox are just 3-6 since the All-Star break and are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. The Red Sox are still in the lead for the wild card, but there are several teams in contention for the postseason berth along with them. With the offense in a funk, a lot of pressure has been put on the pitching staff to put up zeros, and so far that hasn't worked out in the second half.
|Adam Kennedy, 3B||Jacoby Ellsbury, CF|
|Orlando Cabrera, SS||Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|Scott Hairston, LF||Kevin Youkilis, 3B|
|Jack Cust, DH||David Ortiz, DH|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||Jason Bay, LF|
|Ryan Sweeney, RF||J.D. Drew, RF|
|Mark Ellis, 2B||Adam LaRoche, 1B|
|Bobby Crosby, 1B||Jason Varitek, C|
|Eric Patterson, CF||Jed Lowrie, SS|
Josh Beckett (11-4, 3.42) vs. Trevor Cahill (6-8, 4.50)
There are few, if any pitchers that have been better than Beckett over the last couple months. Beckett has had just two bad starts in his last six outings, and his start against the A's on July 7 was one of the four good ones in that span. In his last start, Beckett allowed four earned runs over eight innings to take a loss against the Rangers, as the Red Sox offense did him no favors. Beckett might have to be better than his 3.42 ERA against the A's on Monday, given the state of the Red Sox' lack of run production.
Cahill wasn't great last time out against Boston on July 8, but he wasn't terrible, either. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, giving up four earned runs on three hits in his Fenway Park debut. Still just 21 years old, Cahill is learning on the fly at the major league level, due to Oakland's lack of veteran pitching. Since his last start against the Red Sox, Cahill has pitched 17 innings, allowing eight earned runs on 17 hits for a 4.24 ERA. He might not completely shut down the Red Sox, but he should certainly give the A's a chance to win the game.
Justin Masterson has allowed just one hit and no earned runs with five strikeouts in his last five innings.
J.D. Drew is 10-for-69 (.145) in July with four RBIs.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 6-for-13 (.462) in the three-game series against the Orioles.
Jason Bay is 12-for-63 (.190) in July with one home run and three RBIs.
Jason Varitek has hit in three straight games, but is just 4-for-28 (.143) over his last nine games.
Orlando Cabrera is 9-for 39 (.231) with one home run and four RBIs against Beckett.
Mark Ellis is 4-for-15 (.267) with one home run and three RBIs against Beckett.
In his last 10 1/3 innings, Brad Ziegler has allowed just five hits and two earned runs.
Kurt Suzuki is 7-for-18 (.389) over his last five games with five RBIs.
Ryan Sweeney has just one RBI since June 29, the last time he hit a home run.
Black and Blue
Jeff Bailey is on the 15-day DL with a high ankle sprain and could be back in early August.
Tim Wakefield is on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain and it's possible he could throw off flat ground on Monday.
Daisuke Matsuzaka remains on the 15-day DL with a weak right shoulder. He is expected to continue his rehab in Florida.
First baseman Daric Barton is day-to-day with a strained hamstring and could play in the Red Sox series.
First baseman Jason Giambi is on the 15-day DL and out indefinitely with a strained quad.
Right-handed pitcher Justin Duchscherer is on the 60-day DL after elbow surgery, but could return in early August.
This Date in Red Sox History
In 1946, Rudy York blasts two grand slams and racks up 10 RBIs in the Red Sox' 13-6 win over the St. Louis Browns.
"My stuff is not done. My results might put me in a category where they're going to talk about it, but with the exception of some hits, I'm tired of tipping my hat to the hitters."
— John Smoltz following his losing effort on Sunday against the Orioles
The offense continues to let the pitching staff down.
John Smoltz just hasn't had it for the Red Sox.
Nomar is ready to put on No. 5 again.
Rickey Henderson was a special player with a certain swagger.
The Yankees won again and now can put away the Rays.
It was a special day in Cooperstown on Sunday.
The Rays lost to the Blue Jays, falling deeper in the East.
With the Yankees playing the Rays in Tampa Bay, the Red Sox have a chance to gain ground if they can find a way to beat the A's. Trailing the Yankees in the East and barely leading the Rays in the wild card, it's an important week for the Red Sox before they start a grueling schedule that brings them through August.