|Friday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: John Lackey vs. Felix Hernandez||07.22.11 at 9:00 am ET|
The Red Sox aren’t in Baltimore anymore.
Under literally any scenario, that would mean that they would face tougher pitching than the Baltimore staff that ranks dead last in the majors in ERA. But when the Sox face the Mariners for a three-game set starting Friday night, they’ll find themselves facing a staff that’s at the other end of the spectrum. Seattle ranks second in the AL and seventh in the majors with a 3.39 team ERA, thanks to All-Star performances by Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, who will take the hill Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Red Sox will counter the M’s 2010 Cy Young winner with John Lackey to start the series.
Lackey’s struggles (7-8, 6.70 ERA) are well-known to anyone who has listened to sports radio, picked up a newspaper or watched TV in the Boston area over the last three months. But there are some encouraging signs heading into Friday night’s start. The big right-hander shook off a difficult first inning (three runs allowed on four hits and an error by Marco Scutaro) in his outing last Saturday against the Rays to eventually last 5 2/3 innings of the 9-5 win. For the second start in a row, he had a season-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7:1 and now has only allowed three free passes over his last four starts after walking four on June 22.
In his lone start against Seattle this season on April 30, Lackey allowed just two runs in six innings but racked up his third loss when the Red Sox offense put up a goose egg on the Fenway Park scoreboard. Friday night, he will face Ichiro Suzuki for the 101st time, the most he’s seen any major leaguer.
Hernandez (8-8, 3.26 ERA) hasn’t faced any big leaguer that much, never mind anyone on the Red Sox, but he does have some experience against this Boston squad. On May 1, he held the powerful Sox offense to just two runs over seven innings and retired as many as 12 consecutive hitters at one point. But like Lackey, Hernandez’s win total was not a beneficiary of that performance as the M’s totaled just two runs before Carl Crawford hit a walk-off single up the middle to give the Sox a 3-2 victory. The hard-throwing All-Star would seemingly be used to such a scenario, however. The Seattle offense averages just 3.61 runs in Hernandez starts, and believe it or not, that number is actually higher than its MLB-worst average of 3.24 runs per game regardless of who is on the mound.
The Red Sox offense itself may have its own struggles though with Hernandez pitching. Every Red Sox hitter with substantial experience against the righty has struck out multiple times with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and J.D. Drew leading the way with 7 K’s each. However, expect Drew to be playing in right field Friday because his .360 average, 1.067 OPS and two home runs against Hernandez are team-highs.
Mariners vs. Lackey
Ichiro Suzuki (100 career plate appearances): .298 BA/.340 OBP/.362 SLG, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 doubles, 5 walks, 16 strikeouts
Jack Cust (35): .323/.400/.613, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts
Miguel Olivo (24): .130/.167/.304, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 double, 10 strikeouts
Franklin Gutierrez (19): .111/.158/.111, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Chone Figgins (11): .455/.455/.455, 3 strikeouts
Adam Kennedy (11): .273/.273/.273, 1 strikeout
Jack Wilson (9): .429/.444/.429, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Josh Bard (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts
Justin Smoak (6): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts
Mike Carp (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Brendan Ryan (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 sac bunt
Greg Halman has never faced the Boston starter.
Red Sox vs. Hernandez
Adrian Gonzalez (32 career plate appearances): .300 BA/.344 OBP/.467 SLG, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (30): .360/.467/.600, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Marco Scutaro (26): .240/.269/.280, 1 RBI, 1 double, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Carl Crawford (25): .292/.320/.333, 1 RBI, 1 double, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (24): .273/.333/.318, 1 RBI, 1 double, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
David Ortiz (22): .263/.364/.474, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 double, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17): .188/.235/.250, 1 double, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (17): .250/.294/.250, 3 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (16): .133/.188/.133, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (15): .143/.200/.143, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Yamaico Navarro is 0-for-2 against Hernandez. Darnell McDonald and Josh Reddick have never faced the Seattle starter.
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