If John Lackey has that dominant start in him, now is a good time to have it.
Lackey gets the call when the Red Sox, losers of seven of their last nine games, take on Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Signed to an $82.5 million deal in the offseason, Lackey had an uneven first half-season with the Sox, who could really use a quality outing. They have not only received just 6 2/3 total innings from their starters in the series so far, but they also have been held to five runs or less in eight of their last nine games. Lee will be making his second start since being acquired by Texas in a trade with Seattle last week.
WHEN AND WHERE
Rangers (52-38) at Red Sox (51-39) Saturday, July 17, 7:10 p.m. Fenway Park, Boston
HEAD TO HEAD
The Rangers have won three straight in Fenway.
LHP Cliff Lee (8-4, 2.64 ERA) vs. RHP John Lackey (9-5, 4.78 ERA)
Lackey said after his final start of the first half of the season that he was looking forward to starting fresh after the All-Star break. Unfortunately for the former Angel, his chance comes against a team that has hit him pretty hard in the past. The right-hander, who was 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in his last two starts before the break, is 11-12 with a 5.87 ERA in 32 starts against the Rangers.
Those figures represent his worst marks against any AL team by a pretty good margin. Lee went the distance in his debut with Texas for his fourth complete game in five starts overall, but was not his usually sharp self. He gave up six runs on nine hits in a 6-1 loss to Baltimore. The 31-year-old is 2-4 with a 4.39 ERA lifetime vs. Boston.
1. Marco Scutaro, SS 2. Darnell McDonald, LF 3. David Ortiz, DH 4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B 5. Adrian Beltre, 3B 6. J.D. Drew, RF 7. Mike Cameron, CF 8. Kevin Cash, C 9. Bill Hall, 2B
1. Elvis Andrus, SS 2. Michael Young, 3B 3. Ian Kinsler, 2B 4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH 5. Josh Hamilton, LF 6. Nelson Cruz, RF 7. Bengie Molina, C 8. Chris Davis, 1B 9. Julio Borbon, CF
Right fielder J.D. Drew scored his 900th career run Friday night.
The Sox have been outscored 8-0 in the first inning of this series.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre has 16 home runs against Texas, tied for the most he has against any AL club.
Catcher Bengie Molina on Friday became the first Rangers catcher since Jim Sundberg in 1975 to hit for the cycle. He is the first catcher to hit a grand slam as part of the feat in major league history.
Third baseman Michael Young has scored 878 runs with Texas, tied with Juan Gonzalez for 2nd-most in team history. Rafael Palmeiro is the all-time leader with 958.
The Rangers’ three-game winning streak in Fenway is their longest since 1997.
BLACK AND BLUE
Right-hander Josh Beckett (back) will make a second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. He is expected to rejoin the rotation after that outing.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz (hamstring) pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed two runs in a rehab start Friday for Pawtucket. He is expected to return to the Red Sox and start Wednesday’s game at Oakland.
Righty reliever Manny Delcarmen (forearm) will pitch for Double-A Portland on Thursday.
Catcher Jason Varitek remains sidelined with a broken right foot. He will have the foot scanned Friday and is targeting a return in early August.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had a CT scan Friday that showed his broken left foot healing well. He was able to get rid of his crutches and put weight on the foot but has to keep a boot on it for up to two more weeks.
Catcher Victor Martinez was put on the DL on June 28 with a minimally displaced fracture on the tip of his left thumb. Martinez is eligible to return after the All-Star break but will not be activated immediately and still may be a week or two from returning.
Outfielder Jeremy Hermida (broken rib) will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Portland.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will head to Florida to continue his rehab from a broken rib with the club’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.
Mike Lowell was eligible to return from the DL last Friday but was not with the team. There is no set date for him come back from a sore hip.
Infielder Jed Lowrie will continue his rehab stint as he recovers from mononucleosis at Pawtucket..
Righty Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He is out for the year.
Right-hander Rich Harden is due to return soon from a strained left gluteus muscle.
Lefty Derek Holland is on the DL with mild left rotator cuff inflammation.
Righty Eric Hurley is likely out for the year following two surgeries on his left wrist.
Righty Mark Lowe, acquired in the Cliff Lee trade, is out for the year following back surgery.
The Sox have looked flat coming out of the break and need a jolt of energy before things go sour. They have to face Lee in this one and then C.J. Wilson, who dominated them in Fenway Park back in April, on Sunday before venturing out on a 10-game road trip.
Again, it would be a perfect time for Lackey to have his first real shutdown performance for the club. The Rangers, who have 15 runs on 24 hits through the first two games of the series and have hit Lackey hard in the past, will make that tough to come by.