|Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Franklin Morales vs. Phil Hughes||08.17.12 at 8:29 am ET|
Whether it’s coming out of the bullpen to deliver strong relief innings or providing quality starts, Franklin Morales, for better or worse, has been one of the most undervalued and important pieces of the Red Sox pitching staff this season.
Morales saw spot starts while he stepped in for an injured Josh Beckett back in June, and results then didn’t suggest that he should leave the rotation after a stretch of five solid starts. In fact, the Red Sox actually rolled with a six-man rotation until the team ultimately decided to send him back to the bullpen.
It wasn’t until a second injury to Beckett in late July that Morales was returned to the rotation. And since then, unlike Beckett and his equally struggling pitching mate Jon Lester, there haven’t been any complaints about the Venezuelan lefty. In fact, other than Clay Buchholz, Morales probably has been the most reliable pitcher on the Red Sox pitching staff this season. In seven starts this season, Morales is 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA.
On Friday night, Morales will take the mound at Yankee Stadium to start a three-game series with the Yankees. Despite his success this season, Morales probably had his worst start of the year back on July 7 against the Yankees at Fenway Park. In that game, he only lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits in a brutal 6-1 loss.
Morales pitched an inning of relief against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 27, when he tossed two scoreless outings and struck out two. In six career appearances against the rivals, Morales is 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA
The Yankees will counter with Phil Hughes, who is having a rocky 2012 season. The righty is 11-10 with a 4.44 ERA, but despite his wild inconsistencies he has shown stretches of brilliance, as he went 4-1 in the month of June and put together a solid month of July after a difficult beginning to the season.
Despite his turnaround, Hughes has had back-to-back forgettable outings going into Friday’s contest. On Aug. 7, he tossed just 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on eight hits before lasting just four innings and giving up seven runs on nine hits in his latest start, a 10-7 loss to the Blue Jays.
Hughes, however, will be happy to be back in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium after a two-week absence from the ballpark. This season, Hughes is 8-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 starts at home, which includes a solid outing on July 27 against the Red Sox. In that game, he threw seven innings and gave up just three runs — although he gave up three home runs — on five hits as the Yankees cruised to a 10-3 victory.
In 10 career starts against the Red Sox, Hughes is 3-6 with a 6.17 ERA, which includes nine home runs. This season, Hughes has given up 27 home runs, which is already a career high.
Red Sox vs. Hughes (RHP)
Carl Crawford (24 plate appearances): .190 BA/.292 OBP/.381 SLG, 1 double, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (23): .238/.304//571, 1 double, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (14): .364/.500/.545, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 1 strikeout
Adrian Gonzalez (11): .455/.455/.545, 1 double, 1 RBI
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (7): .286/.286/.714, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 5 strikeouts
Cody Ross (6): .200/.333/.400, 1 double, 1 walk
Danny Valencia (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout
Mike Aviles (5): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Nick Punto (5): .333/.200/.667, 1 double, 2 RBIs
Scott Podsednik (4): .500/.500/1.250, 1 home run, 2 RBIs
Pedro Ciriaco (3): 1.000/1.000/1.333, 1 double, 3 RBIs
Yankees vs. Morales (LHP)
Russell Martin (8 plate appearances): .333 BA/.500 OBP/.333 SLG, 1 RBI, 2 walks
Robinson Cano (6): .250/.500/.250, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Mark Teixeira (5): .000/.400/.000, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Andruw Jones (4): .500/.500/2.000, 2 home runs, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout
Ichiro Suzuki (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Nick Swisher (4): .667/.750/1.667, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 1 walk
Curtis Granderson (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk
Derek Jeter (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout
Jayson Nix (2): .500/.500/2.000, 1 home run, 1 RBI
Chris Stewart (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Eric Chavez (1): .000/.000/.000
Casey McGehee (1): .000/.000/.000
Raul Ibanez has one walk in one plate appearance against Morales.
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