|Friday’s Red Sox-Cubs matchups: Jon Lester vs. Doug Davis||05.20.11 at 7:50 am ET|
Friday will mark one of the biggest games on the MLB schedule in 2011 when the Cubs travel to Fenway Park to visit the Red Sox for the first time since the two sides squared off in the 1918 World Series. As you all remember quite vividly, Carl Mays defeated Lefty Tyler, 2-1, in Game 6 to give the Sox the 4-2 Series victory. Nearly one century later when the two teams meet again, it’ll be Jon Lester dueling with Doug Davis in a battle between two modern-day lefties.
Together with Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, Lester (5-1, 3.28 ERA) has become part of a solid core of three at the front end of the Red Sox starting rotation. With his win on Sunday against the Yankees (6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 7 K, 4 BB), the Boston left-hander grabbed the highest win percentage in major league history among pitchers with at least 50 decisions at .717 (66-26). But he has struggled slightly as of late. Sunday’s performance was the second game in a row in which he allowed more than four earned runs after he allowed five over 5 1/3 innings in a 7-6 loss to Toronto on May 10. He’ll be best served by avoiding the long ball if he can. Lester has surrendered a team-high nine home runs in 2011, third most in the American League. He’s allowed at least one bomb in his last four starts, matching a career-long stretch.
Only four players on the Cubs have ever stepped up to the plate against Lester, but those on the roster who haven’t may be best served picking the brain of Carlos Pena, who has 49 plate appearances against the lefty dating back to his days with Tampa Bay. The lefty slugger has a .275 average and five home runs against Lester but has also struck out 13 times.
The 35-year-old Davis was signed by Chicago in the offseason to provide rotation depth and has already been called upon to do so in the first quarter of the season. With Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells injured, Davis was needed to make his first start of the season last Saturday against the Giants and fared pretty well, allowing just one earned over five innings of work while striking out six. Unfortunately for him, the Cubs provided zero run support in a 3-0 loss and Davis was saddled with his first loss of 2011.
Expect lefty bat J.D. Drew to get the night off in right field for the Sox in favor of righty Mike Cameron, who has faced Davis 64 times in his career and has a .333 average against him. Adrian Gonzalez has just a .206 average against Davis in 37 plate appearances, but don’t expect the only AL player in the top five in all three Triple Crown categories to sit against the lefty.
CUBS VS. LESTER
Carlos Pena (49 career plate appearances): .275 BA/.367 OBP/.675 SLG, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 1 double, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Marlon Byrd (9): .111/.111/.222, 1 double, 3 strikeouts
Reed Johnson (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Alfonso Soriano (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney, Wellington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Blake DeWitt, Kosuke Fukudome, Koyie Hill and Aramais Ramirez have never faced the Boston starter.
RED SOX VS. DAVIS
Mike Cameron (64 career plate appearances): .333 BA/.438 OBP/.608 SLG, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 11 walks, 7 strikeouts
Adrian Gonzalez (37): .206/.270/.324, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 double, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (12): .273/.333/.273, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (10): .200/.200/.500, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 strikeouts
David Ortiz (6): .400/.500/.600, 1 double, 1 walk
Dustin Pedroia (6): .200/.333/.800, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk
Jacoby Ellsbury (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout
Carl Crawford (3): .500/.667/.500, 2 RBI, 1 HBP
Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kevin Youkilis have never faced the Chicago starter.
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