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Sunday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: John Lackey vs. Bud Norris

04.28.13 at 8:39 am ET
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Barring any setbacks, John Lackey will make his first start at Fenway Park since 2011 on Sunday, facing Bud Norris and the Astros.

Lackey left in the fourth inning of his only start this year, in Toronto on April 6, with what turned out to be a right biceps strain. Fortunately for him, that was unrelated to the elbow injury that had required Tommy John surgery and sidelined him for the entire 2012 season.

Lackey hasn’t pitched at home since Sept. 19, 2011, when he gave up eight runs over 4 1/3 innings to the Orioles but the Sox went on to win, 18-9.

In his 11-year career, Lackey has faced the Astros just once, back in 2007 as an Angel. Craig Biggio was hitting leadoff for the Astros that day, and Lackey allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings (though the Angels went on to win 10-9).

Norris is off to a bit of an uneven start for the Astros, although he has been one of their better starting pitchers. On April 17, he gave up six runs on five hits and three walks in the first inning, getting knocked out of a game the Astros eventually lost 7-5 to Oakland before he got three outs.

He bounced back to some degree in his next start on April 23. Against the Mariners, Norris allowed just one run, with two strikeouts and two walks, but he lasted just five innings. He’s only made it to the sixth inning once in his five starts this year, on April 12, when he shut out the Angels for seven innings.

Having been with the Astros for the entirety of his five-year career, Norris, 28, has faced the Red Sox only once. That start came on July 1, 2011, when he struck out 10 over six innings but gave up four runs on four walks and four hits.

Two of the Sox’ former National Leaguers, Stephen Drew and Shane Victorino, have enjoyed quite a bit of success against Norris in small samples. Drew is hitting .556/.667/.778 with two doubles in 12 plate appearances, and Victorino has a .400/.625/.600 line with a double in eight PAs. David Ross has faced Norris just three times, but homered in one of those meetings.

The only current Astro with much firsthand knowledge of Lackey is Carlos Pena, who has three home runs and a .436 OBP against him in 39 plate appearances.

Astros vs. John Lackey (RHP)

Carlos Pena (39 plate appearances): .267 BA/.436 OBP/.600 SLG, 3 home runs, 1 double, 5 RBI, 9 walks, 8 strikeouts

Ronny Cedeno (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI

Jose Altuve, Rick Ankiel, Brandon Barnes, Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Matt Dominguez, Marwin Gonzalez, Robbie Grossman, Brandon Laird and Fernando Martinez have never faced Lackey.

Red Sox vs. Bud Norris (RHP)

Stephen Drew (12): .556/.667/.778, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 3 walks

Shane Victorino (8): .400/.625/.600, 1 double, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Jonny Gomes (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (3): .000/.667/.000, 2 walks

David Ross (3): .667/.667/1.667, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Mike Carp, Pedro Ciriaco, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and David Ortiz have never faced Norris.

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