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Red Sox-Cubs series preview

06.30.14 at 1:11 pm ET
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The Red Sox will look to build off of a series win over the Yankees when they return to the friendly confines of Fenway Park to take on the Cubs in a three-game series.

It's been another rough season for the Cubs, who head to Fenway in last place in the NL Central. (AP)

It’s been another rough season for the Cubs, who head to Fenway in last place in the NL Central. (AP)

This is just the fourth regular-season series between the two clubs, despite the fact that they have played organized baseball for a combined 257 years. The last time Boston hosted Chicago at Fenway was on May 20-22, 2011, with the Red Sox taking two of three games.

After kicking off a 10-game road trip with a dismal 1-5 record, the Red Sox righted the ship by taking three out of their last four games to finish 4-6.

The Red Sox lineup finally got going in the team’s last game Sunday against the Yankees, scoring eight runs on 12 hits en route to an 8-5 victory. Prior to that game, Boston had scored three runs or less in 12 of its last 14 outings.

“Any time you win a series on the road, particularly where we are in the standings and who’s ahead of us, these are key,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Despite being at the end of June, with where we’re at in the standings, every series is critical for us.”

It’€™s been another trying season on the North Side of Chicago for Theo Epstein‘€™s Cubs, as Chicago has the worst record in the National League Central with a 34-46 record.

The Cubs are coming off of a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Nationals, losing by a combined score of 10-2. Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was roughed up in the second game, surrendering six runs in five innings of work.

“[Samardzija is] a guy who wants to grind it out and stay in there and keep getting after it, but today just wasn’t his day,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said after the game. “There were a lot of seeing-eye hits today that found some holes, and I thought it was just best to go ahead and shorten it up for him. He wasn’t too happy — he wanted to stay in there and he wanted to help us, but today was not his day.”

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.

Monday: Jake Peavy (1-6, 4.93 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (4-1, 2.05 ERA)
Tuesday: Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.75 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22 ERA)
Wednesday: Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (7-6, 4.52 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

– It seems like everyone has been waiting all season for Dustin Pedroia to get into one of his signature hot streaks. While Pedroia has been underwhelming in his eighth year in Boston, he has posted two three-hit games in a row, boosting his batting average from .262 to .275 and his OBP from .334 to .345.

– Since his return from the disabled list on June 8, first baseman Mike Napoli has been a huge cog in the heart of the Red Sox lineup. In 20 games this month Napoli is hitting .319 with five home runs and nine RBIs. Despite playing in just 63 games this season, Napoli is tied for second on the team with 31 RBIs.

– While his .253 batting average is 32 points below his career average of .285, David Ortiz has continued to be the main source of power in an otherwise feeble Red Sox lineup. The Red Sox designated hitter has hit seven of the team’€™s 20 home runs in June, while accounting for 19 of the club’€™s 62 home runs on the year — 30.6 percent of the team’€™s total long ball output. Ortiz leads all designated hitters this season in home runs (18), RBIs (47) and walks (41).

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta

WHO’S HOT: CUBS

Jake Arrieta has been nearly unhittable this month, allowing just four runs in five June starts, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.14 ERA in the process. In his last start on Wednesday against the Reds, Arrieta took a perfect game into the seventh inning, earning his fourth win of the year in an eventual 7-3 Cubs victory.

– Shortstop Starlin Castro has rebounded from a disappointing 2013 season (.245/.284/.347) to lead the Cubs in batting average (.283), hits (90) and RBIs (47) this year. Castro is second amongst NL shortstops in batting average, trailing Colorado’€™s Troy Tulowitzki (.356).

– Former Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo is finally living up to expectations this season, hitting .282 while driving in 44 runs on the year. Rizzo, who’€™s batting .313 with two home runs over his last seven games, leads all NL first basemen with 17 home runs.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

Jake Peavy is coming off of his worst start of the season, as the former NL Cy Young Award winner allowed seven runs over five innings of work Tuesday against the Athletics. With the emergence of Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 2.51 ERA) in the rotation, Peavy has been the subject of trade rumors over the last week.

– Even though Stephen Drew drove in a run for the first time in 13 games on Sunday against the Yankees, the shortstop has been a massive disappointment this season. Drew is hitting just .091 (2-for-22) over his last seven games.

Xander Bogaerts is going through the worst slump of his brief MLB career, as the 21-year-old is hitting .140 (13-for-93) this month with five extra-base hits. Over his last seven games, Bogaerts has just one hit in 18 at-bats.

Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson

WHO’S NOT: CUBS

Edwin Jackson has been a big disappointment in the second year of the righty’€™s four-year, $52 million contract with Chicago, posting a 5-8 record with a 5.22 ERA. Jackson has not recorded a quality start since May 17 and has allowed 22 runs in 26 innings this month (6.23 ERA).

– Closer Hector Rondon has been struggling over the last few games, taking the loss in two of his last three appearances. The right-hander has allowed six earned runs over his last 2 2/3 innings for an astronomical 20.25 ERA.

– While Mike Olt has brought some pop to the Cubs lineup (10 home runs), the UConn product has struggled to make contact, hitting just .142 while striking out 71 times in 162 at-bats this season. Olt is hitting just .057 in 35 at-bats this month.

Read More: cubs, Dustin Pedroia, Jake Arrieta, Red Sox
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