Clay Buchholz starts in the opener of a three-game series with Manny Ramirez and the Chicago White Sox on Friday (Update: Buchholz will pitch in Saturday's matinee). Obviously, whenever he is on the mound the Red Sox have a good chance for a win.
Unfortunately Buchholz cannot pitch all weekend. Here are a few keys to finding success throughout the set:
Don?t Look Ahead
Not that the Red Sox would ever overlook three of their precious remaining 28 games, but looming on the back end of the homestand are three contests that could serve as a last-gasp effort to get back into the mix.
Boston?s final three games with Tampa Bay round out the homestand. The Sox enter the series with the White Sox down 6 1/2 games. If they can pick up a game or two before the Rays series commences then those three contests become massive.
Tampa Bay is at Baltimore for the next three days.
Wait It Out
The Red Sox will be facing three quality starters in John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Mark Buehrle. While the Chicago bullpen is not a poor one it is without its top two setup men in Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, both out with injuries. Closer Bobby Jenks has also been very up and down this season.
Rookie Chris Sale, the 13th overall pick in the first-year player draft back in June, picked up a save Wednesday at Cleveland. He has been dominant but has never faced a pressure situation in a place like Fenway Park.
If Boston can win the race to the bullpens it should be able to get some late runs. That could be the difference in a series loaded with some quality starters.
Break Out the Brooms
The last sweep by Boston at home came against the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-June, when Ramirez first paid a visit to his old stomping grounds. The last time the Sox swept an American League team in Fenway Park was May 19-20, a quick two-game set vs. Minnesota.
Sure, the Red Sox never plan on sweeping a series; they always approach things on a day-to-day basis. But with the days disappearing from the calendar, the fact remains that Boston absolutely has to sweep an opponent, or several, at some point. Now would be a good time to rediscover the home dominance this team has been known for in the past.