Red Sox-Mariners series preview
|06.23.14 at 3:03 pm ET|
Boston is coming off a discouraging four-game set against the Athletics in which the Red Sox only scored six runs through the first three games. Saturday’s 2-1 loss marked the eighth straight game in which Boston had scored three runs or less.
The Red Sox finally broke out of their offensive drought Sunday, scoring seven runs and collecting 13 hits, but it took a 10th-inning home run from David Ortiz to give the Red Sox a win and prevent a sweep in the Bay Area.
“Despite the last three days, our guys are still fighting, they’re still putting together as tough at-bats as they can,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after Sunday’s game. “This was a hard-fought series, and it’s good to salvage one out of it.”
After dropping two of three to the feeble Padres last week, the Mariners got back on track over the weekend, sweeping one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Royals, in three games.
In Sunday’s game, catcher Mike Zunino blasted a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning, giving Seattle a 2-1 lead that it would not relinquish.
“Whenever you put at-bats together or you’re playing well it’s one of those things that definitely carries over,” Zunino said. “It’s nice that we can turn around and play again [Monday against the Red Sox], and hopefully we can build on [Sunday].”
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– Lackey has been one of the few bright spots this season for the Red Sox. He has been the most consistent pitcher in the Boston rotation thus year, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.96 ERA. The 35-year-old righty has been even better in June – going 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA in four starts.
– Brock Holt continues to make his presence felt at the top of the Boston lineup. Holt leads all major leaguers with 43 hits since being chosen as the team’s leadoff hitter on May 23, while his .326 average leads all rookies with at least 100 plate appearances.
WHO’S HOT: MARINERS
– It’s been another status-quo campaign for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, as the 28-year-old hurler is once again one of the top pitchers in baseball. Entering Sunday, Hernandez was tied for first in the AL in WHIP (0.95) while placing second in the league in strikeouts (122). Hernandez has been nearly unhittable in June, allowing just four runs in 29 1/3 innings (1.23 ERA).
– Perhaps it has been the spacious Safeco Field or lack of lineup protection that has sapped Robinson Cano of some of his power (four home runs), but the All-Star second baseman still is one of the AL’s best hitters. Cano leads Seattle in on-base percentage (.390) while placing second on the team in RBIs (42). Cano’s .329 batting average is second in the AL, trailing Houston’s Jose Altuve (.336).
– Fernando Rodney has been a huge addition to the Mariners bullpen, as the former Rays pitcher is tied for first in the AL with 21 saves while posting a 2.08 ERA. Seattle has the lowest team bullpen ERA in the AL at 2.74.
WHO’S NOT: RED SOX
– Xander Bogaerts must be looking forward to getting out of Oakland, as the third baseman committed three errors during the four-game series against the A’s. The 21-year-old has committed five errors at the hot corner and 11 total errors on the season. Bogaerts also has struggled at the plate this month with a .160 average and just five extra-base hits in 19 games.
– Closer Koji Uehara has surprisingly been very hittable over his last few appearances. Uehara blew his first save of the season Sunday, surrendering two home runs in the ninth inning to tie the game at 6. It was Uehara’s first blown save since July 6, 2012.
– Stephen Drew has continued to disappoint at the dish, as the shortstop is 0-for-14 over his last four games. In 11 games this season, Drew is hitting .158 with one RBI in 38 at-bats.
WHO’S NOT: MARINERS
– While he may have smashed the go-ahead home run Sunday against the Royals, Zunino has struggled as of late, hitting .179 in his last 35 at-bats with 18 strikeouts. Zunino, the third-overall pick of the 2012 draft, is hitting .225 on the year.
– It’s been another disappointing season for Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley, once one of the top prospects in baseball. The second-overall selection of the 2009 draft out of the University of North Carolina, Ackley has consistently underperformed at the plate, posting a pedestrian .244 career batting average, including a .233/.286/.359 line this year. Over his last seven games, Ackley is hitting .211 with just one extra-base hit.
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