The Red Sox got just what they needed out of Jon Lester on Sunday — seven shutout innings and a pair of home runs. On Monday afternoon, they'll need a similar effort out of Josh Beckett in order to salvage a four-game split in Chicago and maintain their lead over Texas for the wild card.
They currently sit three games ahead of the Rangers and seven in front of the Rays, while the White Sox are all but eliminated, sitting eight games behind the Tigers.
When and Where
2:05 p.m. ET (NESN and NESN HD)
Sept. 7, 2009
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, Ill.
Red Sox (79-57, 2nd place in AL East)
White Sox (68-70, 3rd place in AL Central)
Head to Head
Sunday's win gave the Red Sox a 4-3 edge in the season series. The Red Sox took three of four at Fenway in late August before Chicago took the first two games of this series. Monday's game will be the final of the season series.
|Red Sox||White Sox
|Jacoby Ellsbury, CF||Scott Podsednik, DH|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||Alexei Ramirez, SS|
|Victor Martinez, 1B||A.J. Pierzynski, C|
|Kevin Youkilis, 3B||Jermaine Dye, RF|
|Jason Bay, LF||Mark Kotsay, 1B|
|Mike Lowell, DH||Carlos Quentin, LF|
|Rocco Balldelli, RF||Chris Getz, 2B|
|Jason Varitek, C||Alex Rios, CF|
|Alex Gonzalez, SS||Jayson Nix, 3B|
Josh Beckett (14-5, 3.87 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.86 ERA)
Josh Beckett's struggles have been well documented. As recently as Aug. 12, he looked primed to win the Cy Young Award with a 3.10 ERA and 14-4 record. Then something went wrong. What, exactly, that something was is anybody's guess, but Beckett's gone winless in his last four starts, giving up 24 earned runs in 24 1/3 innings (8.88 ERA) and surrendered 12 home runs. He provided the Red Sox with a glimmer of hope on Wednesday, settling in after a rough opening two innings.
For the White Sox, Mark Buehrle has somewhat impossibly not won a game since throwing a perfect game on July 23. Since that date, the man whose name is the hardest to spell in baseball has gone 0-4 in eight starts, posting a 5.44 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 10 walks in that span. Last time out against the Twins, he gave up just two runs in seven innings, earning a no-decision in a 4-2 win.
The Red Sox are 6-3 in their last nine road games, winning in Chicago, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Thanks to two home runs on Sunday, the Sox have now homered in 18 of their last 22 games, with multiple long balls in 13 of those games.
Monday's afternoon game marks the first time the Red Sox have played three consecutive day games since early April in 2008.
Jon Lester recorded his 200th strikeout of the year on Sunday, becoming just the 10th pitcher in Red Sox history to do so. Those 10 pitchers accomplished the feat 24 times, with Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez reaching the mark the most. It was last accomplished by Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2007.
Billy Wagner's (abbreviated) season-long shutout streak came to an end when he gave up a solo home run on Sunday.
Despite trailing the season series 4-3, the White Sox have outscored the Red Sox 40-35 this year.
The 12 runs that the White Sox scored on Friday night were the most they've ever scored against the Red Sox.
The White Sox hadn't trailed for 31 innings when Lowell homered in the fourth inning on Sunday.
Ozzie Guillen has managed the White Sox for 501 wins, fourth-most in club history.
In a stretch which has the White Sox playing 20 games in 20 days, the team is currently 5-12.
Even though the White Sox could only score one run on Sunday, Scott Podsednik went 3-for-4 at the top of the lineup. He's now hit safely in 20 of 21 games against the Red Sox, batting .360 in that span.
Black and Blue
Jed Lowrie's season may be over with a wrist injury.
Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch one more rehab start, coming back from weakness in his shoulder.
Jeff Bailey, who suffered a high-ankle sprain, could return to the Red Sox in September.
Rookie of the Year candidate Gordon Beckham is day to day with a stiff back.
Jake Peavy has yet to pitch for the White Sox, but could make a start before the season ends.
Bartolo Colon could also make a start in September.
This Date in Red Sox History
1998: David Wells lost a game at Fenway Park, when John Valentin?s solo home run in the bottom of the eighth gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead over the Yankees. The Sox had overcome an early 3-0 deficit. From this point on through the 2005 season, Wells had a 16-1 record in games at Fenway Park.
"At this point, you're curious to see what Texas does … Tampa Bay, the Yankees. I think that's only human nature. If you don't look at it I think you're probably lying."
–Mike Lowell, after Sunday's win, on whether or not he's a scoreboard watcher
Jed Lowrie's wasted season could end in the minors.
Tony Maz thinks the back end of the Red Sox' bullpen is one to be feared.
One writer thinks Curt Schilling to the Senate isn't the craziest idea.
Jake Peavy could make a start for the White Sox in September.
The White Sox' rotation should be strong next season.
Speaking of next year, the White Sox will rotate their DHs in 2010.
After turning a triple play and watching Prince Fielder hit a walk-off homer in the 12th, the Brewers made the laundry guy's job a little bit harder.
Ichiro Suzuki recorded his 2,000th hit, the second-fastest player to ever reach that mark.
Randy Ruiz took a pitch to the face against the Yankees on Sunday.
Equally as important as the outcome of the game is how well Beckett throws. Seeing Beckett get back on track with seven or eight quality innings could be more valuable to Boston down the stretch than a win. Of course, the Red Sox still need a win, and another victory over the White Sox could be enough to end Chicago's playoff hopes for good.