Red Sox Hope to Break Even Against A’s in Series Finale

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Red Sox Hope to Break Even Against A's in Series Finale The Red Sox reached the 100-game mark of the season Wednesday night with a record of 58-42, 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East and just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers for the wild card.

At the century mark last season, the Sox had a record of 57-43 in second place in the division, 1 1/2 games behind the Rays. The Sox have lost seven of eight series against AL West teams this season. The lone series win was in a three-game set against the A’s at Fenway from July 6-8, when the Sox went 2-1.

When and Where
1:35  p.m. ET (NESN), July 30, 2009
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.

Records
Red Sox (58-42, 2nd place in AL East)
A’s (43-57, 4th place in AL West)

Skinny
The Sox are 11-12 in July. Against the A’s this season, they are 4-5, with the season-series finale Thursday. A win Thursday would give the Sox a split of the season series, and a chance to salvage a winning record for the month.They do not have a losing record in any month this season; May’s 15-14 record is the closest. The Sox are 9-18 against the AL West this season, the only division against which they have a losing record. 

Starting Lineups

A's
Red Sox
Adam Kennedy, 2B Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Nomar Garciaparra, DH Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Jack Cust, RF Jason Bay, LF
Tommy Everidge, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Bobby Crosby, 3B  Mike Lowell, 3B
Rajai Davis, CF J.D. Drew, RF
Ryan Sweeney, LF Jason Varitek, C
Landon Powell, C Nick Green, SS

Pitching Matchup
LHP Jon Lester (9-7, 3.79 ERA) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 7.75 ERA)

In his last start, July 25 at Fenway, Lester went 7 1/3 innings against the Orioles, giving up two runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts and two walks, as the Sox won 7-2. It was his career-high sixth consecutive start without giving up a home run. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last 10 starts, dating back to May 31. In that span, he is 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA (14 earned runs in 69 innings), the best ERA in the AL in that span and third behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.59) and the Giants’ Tim Lincecum (2.02). In that span, only Lincecum’s 99 strikeouts are more than Lester’s 84.

This is his eighth career start against the A’s, and second this season. In his last start against them, April 13 in Oakland, he took the loss, giving up six runs in six innings. In his last start against the A’s at Fenway, Aug. 2, 2008, he earned the win, giving up just two runs in seven innings. In seven career starts against the A’s, Lester is 2-3 with a 4.74 ERA (20 earned runs in 38 innings).

Gonzalez is making his ninth appearance and sixth start of the season. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 8.27 in four games (three starts) in July. He was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento June 24 and has posted a record of 2-2 (7.92) in six games, five starts, since then. In his last start, July 26 at Yankee Stadium, he earned the win, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and three walks with six strikeouts. This will be his first appearance against the Sox.

Stat Sheet
Red Sox

The Sox are 34-17 at Fenway, giving them a .667 home winning percentage, second to the Yankees’ 35-17 (.673) for best in the AL.

The Sox are 5-6 on Thursdays, the only day on which they have a losing record. 

Entering Wednesday night’s game, the Sox were among the AL home leaders in doubles (first with 129), extra-base hits (second, 201), walks (second, 200), on-base percentage (third, .358), slugging percentage (third, .479), runs scored (fourth, 282), batting average (fifth, .275), and home runs (fifth, 62).

Entering Wednesday’s game, Sox pitchers were among the AL home leaders in holds (first, 28), complete games (tied for first, five), ERA (second, 3.72), wins (tied for second, 34), strikeouts (fifth, 368), and saves (seventh, 13).

Entering Wednesday’s game, the Sox were hitting .247 since the All-Star break.

Jacoby Ellsbury has multiple hits in each of his last six games, going 13-for-28 (.464) with three doubles, two triples, four RBIs, five runs and five steals. 

Mike Lowell has hit safely in each of his last eight games since coming off the disabled list July 17, going 12-for-28 (.429), with one home run, three doubles, eight RBIs, three runs and four walks. He had five RBIs Wednesday night and has seven RBIs in his last two games.

Ellsbury stole his 46th base of the season Wednesday night, putting him second in the majors behind Carl Crawford. He joins Tris Speaker (in 1912-1912) as the only players in team history with multiple seasons of 45 or more stolen bases, and is one of three American Leaguers to do so in consecutive seasons, with Crawford (2003-07) and Chone Figgins (2005-06).

Prior to Tuesday’s game against the A’s, the Sox bullpen had not allowed a run since July 11 against Kansas City, a span of 25 1/3 innings. Tuesday night, the pen was charged with seven runs in five innings. Wednesday night, it gave up one unearned run in four innings.

Tuesday night’s blown save was the second time in his career that Jonathan Papelbon has blown a save opportunity after entering a game with a lead of three or more runs. 

Daniel Bard has not allowed an earned run in his last 10 outings, spanning 12 innings over which he has permitted just four base runners on four hits. He has struck out two or more batters seven times in that span, and of the 36 outs he has recorded during that stretch, 20 have been by strikeout, a 56 percent strikeout rate.

A’s
The A’s are 6-8 since the All-Star break and have lost 19 of the last 31 games and 27 of the last 44.

Entering Wednesday night’s game, the A’s were batting .298 (246-for-826) in July, the second best batting average in the majors for the month, behind the Angels’ .313. They have not hit over .252 in a month over the last two seasons, and have topped .290 just four times in Oakland history.

The A’s are second in the majors this month in doubles, with 55, and stolen bases, with 28. They have not recorded that many stolen bases since July 1994.

Kurt Suzuki is 14-for-42 (.333) against the Sox this season and has hit safely in all 21 of his career games against them, going 29-for-83 (.349). The 21-game hitting streak is the longest ever by an Oakland player against any team. He has hit safely in each of his last 11 games at Fenway.

Adam Kennedy hit his first career lead-off home run Wednesday on Brad Penny’s first pitch of the game. It was also the A’s first lead-off homer of the season and the 100th in Oakland history. Of those 100, Rickey Henderson hit 43.

Kennedy has hit safely in each of his last nine games against the Sox, going 20-for-41 (.488) in that span. He is hitting .385 (37-for-96) in his last 24 games against the Sox. He has a 12-game hitting streak at Fenway, going back to Sept. 8, 2005, in which he is 24-for-52 (.462). He has reached base safely in 35 of his 36 career games at Fenway, including each of his last 31.

Jack Cust set a career high with four walks Wednesday. 

The A’s have 38 stolen bases in the last 36 games and 70 for the season. Four players – Orlando Cabrera, Rajai Davis, Matt Holliday (traded to St. Louis), and Kennedy – have at least 10 steals for the first time since 1993.   

Tuesday night was the first time since 1930 that the A’s overcame a deficit of three or more runs in the ninth inning or later.

Kennedy had five hits Tuesday night and Mark Ellis had four, marking the fourth time in Oakland history that two players have combined for nine hits in a game.

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Cabrera led the AL in hits in July, with 39, and was second in batting (.386) and tied for second in stolen bases (eight).

Black and Blue
Red Sox

Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 20 with mild right shoulder strain. He is working out at the team’s complex in Fort Myers.

Right-hander Tim Wakefield was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 18 with a lower back strain.

First baseman/outfielder Jeff Bailey was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 5 with a left ankle sprain.

A’s
First baseman/DH Jason Giambi was placed on the 15-day DL July 20 with a strained right quad.

Right-hander Dan Giese was placed on the 60-day DL May 16 with right elbow ulnaritis.

Left-hander Josh Outman was placed on the 60-day DL June 20 with a sprained left elbow.

First baseman Daric Barton was placed on the 15-day DL July 27 with a strained left hamstring.

Third baseman Eric Chavez was placed on the 15-day DL April 25 with a strained right forearm.

Right-hander Justin Duchscherer is on the 60-day DL after right elbow surgery.

Right-hander Joey Devine is on the 60-day DL.

This Date in Red Sox History
In 1962, pitcher Gene Conley returns to the Red Sox after disappearing off the team bus in New York and trying to fly to Israel. He is fined $2,000. The previous day, he had sent a telegram to manager Mike ‘Pinky’ Higgins stating he was tired and had other plans.

OVERHEARD
“It didn’t bother me, really. It happens, I guess. Not that often, but it happens.”
— Brad Penny on the first-pitch, lead-off home run he gave up to Adam Kennedy in the five-run first inning Wednesday, en route to an 8-6 loss

Press Box
Red Sox

The first inning did in Penny and the Sox.

Terry Francona and Daisuke Matsuzaka cleared the air.

The impending trade deadline has little effect on the Sox.

A’s
The A’s pounced  on Penny.

The A’s will retire Henderson’s number.

The A’s have praise for a coach.

MLB
The Phillies got Cliff Lee in a trade.

Roy Halladay gave up 11 hits, falling to the Mariners.

Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees dominated the Rays.

Outlook
The Sox have lost two straight to the A’s, the first time they’ve done so since the 2006 season. They have won just three of their last 11 games, including five losses to AL West teams. They will need Lester to continue his string of strong performances if they are to salvage a split of this series and the season series against one of the AL’s weakest teams.

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