|Red Sox-Rays matchups: Matsuzaka vs. Hellickson||04.11.11 at 10:47 am ET|
It’s safe to say no one was expecting the Red Sox and Rays to be a combined 3-15 entering Monday night’s series opener at Fenway Park. But after both teams started 0-6, they have found themselves looking up at the rest of the AL East in the early going. The Sox took a step in the right direction over the weekend, taking two of three from the Yankees, while the Rays dropped three of four to the White Sox.
Monday night’s pitching matchup pits Daisuke Matsuzaka against Jeremy Hellickson. They both enter the game 0-1 after similar first starts. Matsuzaka gave up three earned runs over five innings against the Indians and Hellickson gave up three earned over 5 2/3 against the Angels.
The 24-year-old Hellickson appeared in 10 games last year in his first season in the bigs, posting a 4-0 record and 3.47 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. One of those games came against Boston on Sept. 7. The right-hander came out of the bullpen and gave up three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, but the Rays still won the game 14-5. Four current Red Sox had an at bat against Hellickson in that game, with Jed Lowrie, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald all getting a hit and an RBI — McDonald’s of the home run variety.
Matsuzaka has much more experience against the Rays, but it’s rarely been a pleasant experience for the right-hander. He’s just 2-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 career starts against Tampa. Last year was even worse, as Matsuzaka struggled with the Rays more than any other team, going 0-2 with an 8.62 ERA in three starts.
Johnny Damon, Ben Zobrist and Casey Kotchman are all hitting .278 or better with a home run off Matsuzaka. John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez are all hitting .333 or better against Matsuzaka as well. B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce have also homered off Matsuzaka — Upton twice — but they’re both hitting below .240.
MATSUZAKA VS. RAYS
HELLICKSON VS. RED SOX
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