The final full week of the season is upon us and the Red Sox have a two-game lead in the wild card standings. While this may be an enviable position for most clubs, the fact that Boston's lead was 9 games on Sept. 1 shows what a disastrous month it has been for the Sox.
The club will close out its final homestand of the season this week with four games against the Orioles from Monday to Wednesday before heading to New York for a final set with the Yankees. Boston is looking to rebound after dropping three of four to the red-hot Rays over the weekend.
Rookie Kyle Weiland gets the start in the first game of Monday's doubleheader with the Orioles. The 25-year-old has yet to pick up a win in his five previous career starts and hasn't gotten past the fourth inning in any of his previous three appearances. Monday's tilt will be his third versus the O's, a team he is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA against.
In Monday's second game, right-hander John Lackey gets the call for the home team. Despite battling a sore calf muscle in his last start, Lackey threw 115 pitches in 5 1/3 innings against Toronto last Wednesday. He is 12-12 on the year with a 6.19 ERA.
On Tuesday, lefthander Erik Bedard makes his return to the mound after being out of commission for two weeks due to an injured latissimus muscle in his back and an ailing knee. Prior to his injury, the southpaw had been throwing well, allowing three runs in his last 10 innings and going 1-0.
In the regular season finale at Fenway Park on Wednesday, Josh Beckett toes the rubber against Baltimore. The righty ace has won four of his last five starts to improve to 13-5 on the season. In two starts this season against Baltimore Becket is 1-0 but has allowed seven runs in 11 innings of work.
After a day off on Thursday, Jon Lester takes to the hill at Yankee Stadium on Friday against New York. The lefty sports a 15-8 record this year and has pitched particularly well against the Yanks, going 2-1 in four starts.
Tim Wakefield, who finally conquered the 200-win milestone last week, goes for Boston in a Saturday afternoon affair with New York. The 45-year-old knuckleballer is 7-7 this season with a 5.08 ERA.
Lackey is expected to get the call on Sunday against New York in a 1:05 p.m. start.