Red Sox- Rays Preview 9/11
|09.11.09 at 9:50 am ET|
Two starts ago, Jon Lester (12-7, 3.44) carved his name into the record books when he passed Bruce Hurst’s 190 strikeouts for most by a Boston Red Sox (81-58) lefty pitcher in a single-season. Last Sunday, Lester reached another milestone when he became only the 10th Sox pitcher to fan 200 or more batters in a year.
Now, Lester looks to hammer the final nail in the Tampa Bay Rays’ (72-68) coffin tonight when the Rays travel to Fenway to open up a three-game in the series finale between the two AL East rivals.
After losing eight straight, including a four-game sweep against the New York Yankees in the Bronx, the Rays have seen their playoff hopes diminish dropping a season-high 9.5 games out of the wild-card chase and 18.5 out of first.
With slugger Carlos Pena undergoing season-ending surgery this past week and former lefty ace Scott Kazmir now donning a Los Angeles Angels’ uniform on the west coast, the Rays hand the ball over to righty James Shields (9-10, 4.02) as they aim to not only end the losing skid, but also act as spoilers to the Red Sox wild-card quest.
Even though the Rays attempt to give Texas a friendly nudge to aid them in securing a playoff berth, they do so with the arm of Shields, who has struggled heavily against the Sox in his major league career. In 11 total starts, Shields has gone 3-6 with a less-than mediocre 5.40 ERA including a 1-2 record and a 5.79 ERA in 3 starts this season.
Boston’s bats have fared extremely well against the California native. Wednesday night’s hero Victor Martinez, who hit the go-ahead 3-run double in the 7-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, has gone 3-for-9 against Shields. Designated hitter David Ortiz an second baseman Dustin Pedroia have also compiled successful numbers off the 27-year old with Ortiz batting .381 with two home runs and Pedroia hitting .474 with one home run.
On the flip side, Lester has not lost a decision since July 19th to the Toronto Blue Jays where he surrendered 3 runs in 7 innings in a 3-1 defeat. Against the Rays, however, Lester owns a career 5-2 record and a 4.50 ERA earning 65 strikeouts in 64.0 IP.
At home this year, Lester has pitched particular effective collecting 5 wins and only 3 losses in 12 starts with a 3.39 ERA. Though Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett and outfielder Carl Crawford have matched up well against Lester in the past batting .474 in 20 plate appeareances and .320 in 27 plate appearances, respectively, the lefty quieted the Rays potent offense in his record-setting start against them on Sept. 1, where he hurled 6 innings giving up only two runs and whiffing 9.
Here’s a look how both teams’ batters have hit against the younger hurlers in the past:
Jon Lester versus Rays batters
Akinori Iwamura- (30 career plate appearances, .333 AVG/.467 OBP/ .546 SLG, 1 home run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts)
B.J. Upton- (28) .192/.250/.304, 1 home run, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Carl Crawford- (27) .320/.370/.360, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Jason Bartlett- (20) .474/.500/.474, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Dioner Navarro- (19) .267/.421/.267, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Evan Longoria- (18) .333/.333/.611, 1 home run, 6 strikeouts
Pat Burrell- (12) .182/.250/.182, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Ben Zobrist- (10) .286/.500/.286, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Willy Aybar- (9) .222/.222/.444, 4 strikeouts
Gregg Zaun- (9) .143/.333/.143, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Gabe Kapler- 1-for-6, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Gabe Gross- 0-for-3, 1 strikeout
Fernando Perez- 0-for-3
Shawn Riggans (3) 1-for-2, 1 walk
James Shields versus Red Sox batters
Kevin Youkilis- (26 career plate appearances, .130 AVG/.231 OBP/.174 SLG, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts)
J.D. Drew- (24) .391/.417/.826, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
David Ortiz- (24) .381/.458/.857, 2 home runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury- (22) .190/.227/.190, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Mike Lowell- (22) .364/.364/.455, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia- (21) .474/.524/.684, 1 home run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jason Varitek- (19) .167/.211/.333, 1 home run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Casey Kotchman- (10) .222/.300/.222, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jason Bay- (9) .375/.444/.750, 1 home run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Victor Martinez- (9) .333/.333/.444, 2 strikeouts
Joey Gathright- 1-for6, 1 strikeout
Jed Lowrie- 1-for-6, 2 strikeouts
Alex Gonzalez- 0-for-4
Brian Anderson- (3) 1-for-2, 1 walk
Nick Green 0-3, 1 strikeout
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