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Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: John Lackey vs. Hiroki Kuroda

07.20.13 at 8:30 am ET
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Fresh off a well-rounded 4-2 win to open a three-game set with the Yankees, the Red Sox will look to clinch a series win Saturday at Fenway Park when John Lackey gets the ball against Hiroki Kuroda.

Lackey (7-6, 2.78 ERA) is in the midst of one of the best stretches during a comeback season that could prove to be one of the strongest campaigns of his career. In each of his last six starts dating back to June 15 ‘€” shortly after Clay Buchholz‘€™s spectacular start to 2013 came to a halt ‘€” the right-handed Lackey has gone at least seven innings and allowed no more than two runs, with the Red Sox picking up wins in four of those contests.

His June 12 outing was particularly dominant, even if he was a little wild. The Athletics drew four walks while Lackey tossed another seven innings, this time allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out only five, but the effort was more than enough for the Red Sox to come away with a 4-2 victory.

“This is one [start] that probably says more about where I’€™m at than anything,” Lackey told the media after the game. “I probably didn’€™t have my best stuff that I’€™ve had the last few times out and I was still able to do pretty good against a pretty good team.

“It’€™s still a work in progress, but I feel pretty good with where I’€™m at. Usually my touch and feel and that sort of stuff, offspeed pitches, it’€™s usually better in the second half. That’€™s usually what happens for me.”

Lackey has not pitched against the Yankees in the last two seasons, but a trio of New York batters have found decent success against him in their careers. Ichiro Suzuki, who saw Lackey quite a bit when they were AL West rivals, and Robinson Cano are both hitting above .300, while Derek Jeter is right behind them at .297.

Kuroda (8-6, 2.65), meanwhile, doesn’€™t have a ton of history against any of the Red Sox, having spent only a season and a half on the junior circuit, but he is having another solid season overall.

Opponents have failed to score in their last 15 2/3 innings against the Japanese righty. Five of those frames came against the Twins on July 12, when Kuroda scattered six hits and two walks while fanning five.

Two of Kuroda’€™s lesser outings this season happened to have come against the Sox. He’€™s totaled five runs in 6 2/3 innings, a number distorted by his early exit April 3 after taking a line drive off his hand.

The Red Sox also took advantage of him June 2, scoring three runs on eight hits in Kuroda’€™s 5 1/3. Two of those runs were courtesy of Jose Iglesias and David Ortiz long balls in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Yankees vs. Lackey (RHP)

Ichiro Suzuki (108 plate appearances): .304 BA/.343 OBP/.382 SLG, 5 doubles, 1 home run, 5 RBIs, 5 walks, 16 strikeouts

Derek Jeter (75): .297/.384/.438, 6 doubles, 1 home run, 7 RBIs, 4 walks, 17 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (47): .302/.362/.442, 6 doubles, 5 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Vernon Wells (40): .189/.250/.270, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

Travis Hafner (37): .194/.306/.355, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 3 strikeouts, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts

Lyle Overbay (24): .286/.375/.476, 4 doubles, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (23): .286/.348/.476, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Eduardo Nunez (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Austin Romine (2): .500/.500/.500

Zoilo Almonte, Luis Cruz, Alberto Gonzalez and Chris Stewart have never faced Lackey.

Red Sox vs. Kuroda (RHP)

Dustin Pedroia (19 plate appearances): .444 BA/.474 OBP/.667 SLG, 1 double, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk

Jacoby Ellsbury (17): .313/.353/.438, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Shane Victorino (17): .267/.353/.400, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (15): .333/.467/.417, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (15): .286/.333/.500, 1 home run, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (10): .333/.400/.333, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Mike Carp (9): .222/.222/.333, 1 double, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Jonny Gomes (9): .000/.111/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Ryan Lavarnway (9): .125/.222/.125, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

David Ortiz (9): .667/.667/1.167, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jose Iglesias (6): .333/.333/.833, 1 home run, 2 RBIs

Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder have not faced Kuroda.

Read More: David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki
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