Red Sox-White Sox series preview
|04.15.14 at 2:04 pm ET|
It was a rough weekend in the Bronx for the Red Sox, who dropped three of four to the Yankees and fell to last place in the AL East with a 5-8 record. While the pitching has been solid for the most part, the Red Sox offense has been sputtering as of late. The team is batting a collective .255 with a .695 OPS through the first 13 games of the season, and Red Sox hitters went 27-for-134 (a .201 average) with 11 runs over the course of four games against the Yankees over the weekend.
But the club got some much-needed good news on Dustin Pedroia, who missed the final game of the series against the Yankees with a sore left wrist. The second baseman is hitting just .139 since injuring his wrist on April 4, but tests reveal that there’s no fracture and Pedroia is listed as day-to-day. Close Koji Uehara also is day-to-day, and is making progress after missing the past couple of games due to some shoulder stiffness. At least for the time being, it seems like two of the club’s most important pieces will avoid DL stints.
They’ll look to rebound from the disappointing weekend as they take on the White Sox, a team that lost almost 100 games in 2013. But the White Sox are off to a relatively hot start in 2014, going 7-6 and boasting one of the most productive offenses of the young season. The White Sox own the highest team OBP in the majors (.356), highest average (.284) and the most home runs (18) in the American League.
Heading to Chicago will mark a return for three members of the Red Sox. Jake Peavy spent more than four years with the White Sox before he was traded to Boston last summer, while A.J. Pierzynski spent a large chunk of his career in Chicago, from 2005 to 2012. Pitching coach Juan Nieves also spent five years as the White Sox bullpen coach before joining the Red Sox staff.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Jake Peavy (0-0, 2.13) vs. Erik Johnson (0-1, 9.58)
Jon Lester (1-2, 2.57) v. Chris Sale (3-0, 2.66)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– Peavy, who will open the series against his former team, has been dominant in his first two starts of the season. The righty’s allowed just three runs on nine hits in 12 2/3 innings. Peavy had one of his best starts in a Red Sox uniform his last time out, fanning eight over 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run to the Rangers in what would be a no-decision for the starter.
– Grady Sizemore is one of the few members of the lineup who is still swinging a hot bat. Though the outfielder went 0-for-4 in the series opener with the Yankees, he finished the set 4-for-13 with a home run and three RBIs. Sizemore is batting .343/.395/.571 with two doubles and two home runs on the season.
– With Uehara sidelined for the time being, Chris Capuano could become an even more important piece in the bullpen. The 35-year-old has been excellent for the Red Sox so far, giving up just four hits in his scoreless 6 1/3 innings of work while striking out five without allowing a walk. Capuano gave the Sox a chance to make a comeback on Sunday night, taking over for starter Felix Doubront with two outs in the seventh and shutting down the Yankees offense through the next inning and a third.
WHO’S HOT: WHITE SOX
– Alexei Ramirez may be the hottest bat on an offense that has been better than anticipated so far. Ramirez has opened the season with a 13-game hit streak, batting .420/.463/.680. The shortstop sent White Sox fans happy after a blown save by closer Matt Lindstrom, launching the game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth. He sits atop the American League with 21 hits.
– Ramirez isn’t the only one to collect a hit in every game he’s played so far. Conor Gillaspie is in the midst of an 11-game streak and is batting .341/.396/.439 on the season. The third baseman has driven in nine runs and knocked four doubles in his second year as a full-time player.
– Adam Eaton, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in the offseason, has gotten off to a great start with his new club. The 25-year-old has been getting on base a ton, batting .327 with a .419 OBP. He leads the majors in runs scored, crossing the plate 14 times in just 13 games. Before going 0-for-4 on Sunday, Eaton had put together a string of five consecutive multi-hit games.
WHO’S NOT: RED SOX
– Newcomer Burke Badenhop has been one of the few members of the bullpen who has struggled so far. The righty gave up a run on three hits (including a home run) in Saturday’s loss to the Yankees, and has given up runs in three of his four outings in 2014.
– The Red Sox are missing the bat of (a healthy) Pedroia. Jonathan Herrera is an adequate replacement, but he profiles more as a utility guy than the type to receive the majority of starts at any given position. His bat hasn’t impressed so far, with the infielder hitting .211 with a .529 OPS through eight games. Prior to collecting a hit on Sunday night, Herrera had been hitless in his previous eight plate appearances.
– Remember when Mike Carp hit almost .500 last April, clubbing eight extra-base hits in only 26 plate appearances? This April hasn’t been quite the same. Carp has struggled in limited at-bats, hitting just .231 on the season. He’s collected just three hits (and just one since April 4) with just one going for extra bases. With Shane Victorino inching closer to a return from the DL, Carp could be the odd man out of a crowded outfield.
WHO’S NOT: WHITE SOX
– Though he opened the 2014 season with three home runs in his first three games, outfielder Alejandro De Aza has cooled off considerably since. De Aza is hitting just .107 (3-for-28) without a base hit since the opening series, and went hitless for a stretch of six games.
– Though the offense is keeping the White Sox afloat in the standings, their bullpen is in a state of disarray. Lindstrom, the closer, has already blown two saves, with one of those coming on Sunday, when he gave up two singles and a walk and uncorked a wild pitch as the Indians scored two runs in the ninth (both runs were unearned thanks to an error). Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs both come into the series with ERAs over 15.00. Set-up man Nate Jones has the dubious honor of owning an incalculable ERA, allowing four runs on two hits and three walks without recording an out before hitting the disabled list with a back injury. The White Sox enter the series with the worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 6.93.
– The White Sox starting rotation is anchored by their ace, Sale, and Jose Quintana, but the back of the rotation gets a little shaky. Danks has been solid through his first two starts, but Johnson and Felipe Paulino have gotten roughed up in their first few outings. Johnson has given up a total of 19 hits in his 10 1/3 innings of work, including a 10-hit, seven-run drubbing in his season debut. Paulino hasn’t been much better, allowing six earned runs in each of his last two starts, while failing to make it past the sixth in all three of his outings.
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