All eyes will be on the enigmatic Daisuke Matsuzaka when he takes the mound for the Red Sox in the second of three straight games against the Oakland A's at Fenway Park.
Matsuzaka's up-and-down campaign continued six days ago at Fenway, when he had an early exit against Kansas City. He will be matched up with Athletics reclamation project Ben Sheets, who is beginning to resemble the pitcher Oakland hoped it had when it acquired the righty this offseason.
Boston will be looking to extend its winning streak to four. It claimed the opener 9-4 behind VictorMartinez's four doubles and a shutdown performance by the bullpen in relief of John Lackey.
WHEN AND WHERE
Athletics (28-25) at Red Sox (30-23) Wednesday, June 2, 7:10 p.m. Fenway Park, Boston
HEAD TO HEAD
The Sox are 11-4 at home against the A's over the last four years.
RHP Ben Sheets (2-3, 4.91 ERA) vs. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 5.77 ERA)
Matsuzaka's last start, coming in the wake of his near no-hitter in Philadelphia, left many onlookers scratching their heads.
In a loss to the Kansas City Royals, Matsuzaka matched a career high with eight walks — including five in one inning — and failed to get through five innings for the third time in six starts.
The righty seemed rather frustrated with the start, the latest in a series of ups and downs. He has yet to string together two quality outings in a row.
Matsuzaka is 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA in five starts against the A's.
Sheets was similarly inconsistent early on, but has begun to turn the corner. Over his last five starts he is 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA. Boston is one of three teams whom Sheets has never faced.
Marco Scutaro, SS Dustin Pedroia, 2B David Ortiz, DH Kevin Youkilis, 1B J.D. Drew, RF Adrian Beltre, 3B Jeremy Hermida, LF Jason Varitek, C Darnell McDonald, CF
Victor Martinez is the only Red Sox catcher to have five hits in a game since 1952 and he has done it twice in roughly four full months with the team.
Reliever Manny Delcarmen has limited opposing hitters to a .128 (11-for-86) average.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre is batting .451 (23-for-51) with four homers and 16 RBIs in his last 13 games.
Center fielder Rajai Davis has stolen a base in four straight games, the longest streak in the majors this season.
First baseman Daric Barton is batting .357 (10-for-28) with three doubles and two homers during a season-high eight-game hitting streak.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki has hit safely in each of his 21 career starters against the Red Sox, batting .345 (30-for-87).
BLACK AND BLUE
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the disabled list Friday with rib cage soreness. The move was retroactive to May 25.
Outfielder Mike Cameron was given Tuesday off due to soreness in his side. He will be re-evaluated by a specialist Wednesday morning.
Starter Josh Beckett had his rehab from a back injury slowed after a bullpen session did not go well Friday. He will not resume throwing until he feels 100 percent.
Right-hander Boof Bonser recovered from an extremely rocky outing May 22 to throw six shutout innings against Norfolk in his latest rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket. Bonser has been on the DL with a right groin injury since the end of spring training.
Infielder Jed Lowrie continues to try to work back from mononucleosis. He took batting practice and fielded grounders at Fenway last week.
Left-hander Brett Anderson returned from the DL on Saturday and threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in his first start in over a month.
Outfielder Coco Crisp was placed on the DL on May 23 with a ribcage strain. He had played just two games after beginning the season sidelined with a broken finger.
Designated hitter Eric Chavez is on the DL with a bulging disk in his neck. He has hinted at retirement after the latest in a long line of injuries for the former All-Star.
Right-hander Justin Duchscherer will have season-ending surgery on his left hip. He attempted to rehab the injury in mid-May but was unable to return.
Outfielder Travis Buck is hoping to begin playing in extended spring training games soon as he works back from a strained right oblique.
Until Matsuzaka shows some degree of consistency, there will be plenty of uncertainty each time he heads to the mound. Facing a light-hitting Oakland bunch that does not draw many walks may be what he needs to find the groove.
Sheets, on the other hand, has seemingly found it and might present a stiff challenge for the hot Red Sox bats.