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Friday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Felix Hernandez 08.22.14 at 8:33 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

The Red Sox will close out their 11-game homestand when they host the Mariners for a three-game set at Fenway Park. Boston will send Joe Kelly to the mound against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in the series opener Friday.

Kelly (0-1, 5.29 ERA) will be looking to rebound from a rough Fenway debut Sunday, as the righty gave up seven hits and seven earned runs while walking six in just four innings against the Astros.

“Plenty of stuff. Plenty of power. Plenty of action to his secondary pitches,”€ said Red Sox manager John Farrell when asked about Kelly’€™s outing after the game. “Just his command was not as its been in the first two outings for him.”

While Kelly has turned in both promising and discouraging outings during his brief Red Sox career, one recurring trend for the 26-year-old has been issues with command. Kelly has walked 13 batters in his last 17 innings of work.

Friday will stand as Kelly’€™s first career start against the Mariners.

The Red Sox certainly have their work cut out for them against Hernandez (13-4, 1.99 ERA), who has once again solidified himself as arguably the top pitcher in the American League this season.

Hernandez is the clear frontrunner to secure his second Cy Young Award this season, as the right-hander leads the league in ERA and WHIP (0.87) while ranking second in innings pitched (185 1/3), wins (13) and strikeouts (197).

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Red Sox-Mariners series preview 06.23.14 at 3:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox will look to salvage what has been a disappointing road trip to the West Coast on Monday, as they visit Seattle to take on the Mariners for a three-game series at Safeco Field.

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.

Monday: John Lackey (8-4, 2.96 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (8-2, 2.22 ERA)
Tuesday: Jake Peavy (1-5, 4.52 ERA) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.62 ERA)
Wednesday: TBA vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (5-3, 3.04 ERA)

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.

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Read More: felix hernandez, john lackey, Mariners, Red Sox
Monday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: John Lackey vs. Felix Hernandez at 8:36 am ET
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The Red Sox begin a three-game series against the Mariners in Seattle on Monday when John Lackey takes the mound against Felix Hernandez.

Lackey (8-4, 2.96 ERA) made arguably his best start of the season Wednesday against the Twins despite taking a no-decision in a 2-1 Red Sox win in 10 innings. The right-hander tossed nine shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk and striking out nine for his sixth straight quality start. Lackey has gone at least eight innings in three of his last four starts, and is 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA in the month of June.

“It worked out great,” Lackey said after the game. “It really did. I did my job and you’ve got to give their kid [Kyle Gibson] a lot of credit. He’s a talent. He threw the ball tremendous. For our two big guys to hit a couple dingers late like that could give us some momentum heading into the road trip.”

Lackey will make his 32nd career start against the Mariners on Monday night, his second most against any big league team. He’s 15-10 with a 3.61 ERA in his career against Seattle. He took a no-decision in his lone start against the Mariners last season on July 31. He gave up three runs, eight hits and a walk over seven innings in a 5-4 Red Sox win.

Lackey’s been hit hard in his career against newest Mariner, Robinson Cano. The former Yankees slugger is hitting .309 eight doubles and six RBIs in 59 plate appearances against Lackey. Cano continues to be a threat at this plate this season, hitting .332 with 42 RBIs and a .392 on-base percentage.

As expected, Hernandez (8-2, 2.22 ERA) has been the ace of Seattle’s staff this season, but his run support has been severely lacking as of late. The righty is 0-1 with two no-decisions in his last three starts despite allowing just two runs in 22 2/3 innings. He gave up just one run in a no-decision on Wednesday, and it was scored on a wild pitch. He surrendered three hits, struck out 10 and walked none in a 2-1 Mariners loss to the Padres.

“It’s always hard for the team,” Hernandez said after the game. “I don’t care if I get the decision. It’s not about winning for me, just as a team.”

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Read More: felix hernandez, john lackey, Red Sox, Seattle Mariners
Closing Time: Red Sox mount comeback of season, score six in ninth to top Mariners 08.01.13 at 10:32 pm ET
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In a season of comebacks, this might have topped them all.

Down five runs in the ninth inning with Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen on the mound, the Red Sox stormed back to tie the game on a Jonny Gomes RBI single. Then, with one out and the bases loaded, Daniel Nava teed off on a first-pitch fastball from Yoervis Medina to hand the Sox an improbable 8-7 win on Thursday night.

The Sox started the comeback against Wilhelmsen, who left after surrendering a pair of hits and walks while not retiring a batter. The righty proceeded to give way to Oliver Perez, who allowed back-to-back singles to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia to close the game to within a run.

Following Perez’€™s punchout of Ortiz, Medina came on to face Gomes, who lined a 3-2 fastball into center field to score Pedroia. After the game-tying hit, Medina walked Stephen Drew to load the bases with just the one out.

That’€™s when Nava launched a rocket over the head of center fielder Michael Saunders on a first-pitch fastball, clanging it off the base of the wall in center for the Sox’ second walkoff win in as many nights.

It figured to be an uphill battle for the Red Sox before a pitch was thrown, but thanks to Henry Blanco it became Mount Everest in a hurry. With Seattle starter Felix Hernandez once again dominating, the Mariners‘ light-hitting catcher’s fifth-inning grand slam helped put the Sox in a substantial 7-2 hole. But, the Sox wiped out the deficit to close out the series.

The win gave the Red Sox sole possession of first place, giving them a full game lead over idle Rays.

Earlier in the game it didn’t look good for the Sox, with Dempster allowing five or more runs for the third time in his last four starts. This time Seattle’s five-run fifth helped chase Dempster, who finished giving up seven runs on nine hits, striking out six and walking five.

Conversely, Hernandez continued to stake his claim to the title of baseball’s hottest pitcher, allowing one run over seven innings. Entering Thursday night’s game, the rigthy hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his previous six starts, totaling a 1.43 ERA during the stretch.

Here is what right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Gomes, who did not enter the game until the eighth inning when he walked as a pinch-hitter for Mike Carp, proved a game-changer in the game’s final inning. He made a pair of huge defensive plays, first pairing with Brock Holt to execute the defensive play of the night, with the left fielder taking a line drive off the left-field wall from Saunders and immediately firing it into third. The one-hop toss was scooped up by Holt, who tagged out Kendrys Morales. Gomes (who, of course, had a game-saving play with a diving catch that turned into an unassisted double play in the top of the 15th inning on Wednesday) proceeded to make a spectacular catch — in which he barreled into the metal scoreboard — to end the inning. He then delivered the game-tying single up the middle in the ninth.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: daniel nava, felix hernandez, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster
Thursday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Felix Hernandez at 9:45 am ET
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A year and a day after being involved in his own deadline deal ‘€” moving from the Cubs to the Rangers ‘€” right-hander Ryan Dempster will get the ball as the Red Sox host the Mariners and their right-handed ace, Felix Hernandez, in the finale of the midweek series, the last time the teams will face off in 2013.

Dempster has been up and down of late, and he has only recorded one out in the seventh inning in the last month and a half. Still, he owns a 4.30 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in that span of seven starts, numbers that aren’€™t far off from his marks of a 4.24 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 2013.

His last outing, which came in a 7-3 over the Orioles on Saturday in Baltimore, was unspectacular despite his notching the win. Dempster lasted only 84 pitches over 5 1/3 innings as the Orioles touched him up for two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out on four occasions and stranding four runners.

The biggest pitch of the night was a fifth-inning slider to Manny Machado, which he sent to shortstop Stephen Drew for an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

‘€œLuckily I was able to just bear down, make a pitch, get a double play and get out of there,’€ Dempster said afterward.

Manager John Farrell commended Dempster.

‘€œHe stayed out of the middle of the plate, and he used his split effectively,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œHe was able to elevate his fastball to some left-handers to get some fly balls. And I think he’€™s got a feel for how he pitches against his team. ‘€¦ He’€™s not afraid to get behind in the count and use a slider or split to get back in the count or get some mis-hits, and against a very aggressive fastball-hitting team, he matches well.’€

Dempster has seen the Mariners once this season, and it was only three starts ago. On July 11, his final outing before the All-Star break, he tossed 3 1/3 innings while giving up seven runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk. His defense ‘€” namely, a second-inning error from Brock Holt at third base ‘€” let him down, leading to three unearned runs and a much higher pitch count.

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Red Sox-Mariners series preview 07.30.13 at 10:41 am ET
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The Red Sox will welcome the Mariners to Fenway for the first (and only) time this season, kicking off a three-game set on Tuesday evening.

It’s been an intense schedule for the Red Sox to kick off the unofficial second half. The Sox have faced exclusively AL East rivals since returning from the break, playing three against the Yankees, four against the Rays, and three against the Orioles, capped by a makeup game with the Rays on Monday that had the atmosphere of a playoff matchup. A 2-1 loss in an exciting and tight game means the Red Sox are a half-game back of the Rays in the AL East standings with a 63-44 record. It was a frustrating night all around, with a blown call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals one of the deciding factors in the game.

“This is not something that fazes us,” said right fielder Shane Victorino. “It’s just, yeah, it’s a little disappointing. But beyond that, we can’t sit there and dwell on the moment. Tomorrow’s another day.”

With the division race as tight as it is with four of the five teams above .500, the Red Sox will approach the non-waiver trade deadline on Wednesday looking to improve in a number of areas, at least for the right price. Right-handed relievers, left-side infield help and starting pitching depth remain the club’s top priorities as the deadline draws near.

The Mariners are one of those teams that seems to be undecided as to whether they’re buyers or sellers leading up to the July 31 deadline. Even though they’re five games under .500, 12½ games behind the AL West-leading A’s and 7½ games out of a wild card spot, the Mariners have been on a roll in July. Although they’ve gone 2-3 since an eight-game winning streak in the middle of the month, they’ve still won 15 of their last 23 games. The streak has allowed the club to move past the Angels and take hold of third place in the West division.

They’ll come to Boston without an important part of their team: manager Eric Wedge. Wedge suffered a mild stroke before the Mariners’ game on July 22. He’s since been released from the hospital and met with the team on Sunday, but he won’t be making the road trip. In his absence, bench coach Robby Thompson has assumed managerial duties for the time being.

This will be the last meeting between the Red Sox and Mariners in the 2013 regular season. The Red Sox took three of four games in Seattle earlier this month.

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

Tuesday: Brandon Workman (0-1, 4.40) vs. Joe Saunders (9-9, 4.48)
Wednesday: John Lackey (7-8, 3.19) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87)
Thursday: Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.24) vs. Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

‘€¢ David Ortiz took out his frustrations on a dugout phone on Saturday, but now it seems like he’s taking out those frustrations on baseballs instead. Ortiz followed that incident with a 4-for-4 day and is batting .429/.512/.600 over his last 10 games with three doubles and a home run, drawing six walks (two intentional) while striking out only three times. It’s just more of the same from the Red Sox slugger, who is batting an impressive .329/.414/606 on the season, leading the team in just about every offensive category with 20 home runs and 67 RBIs in 86 games.

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Read More: David Ortiz, felix hernandez, Jon Lester, Kyle Seager
Monday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Jon Lester vs. Felix Hernandez 07.08.13 at 1:54 pm ET
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Jon Lester has been more effective his last two starts, seemingly coming out of his month-long sputter, and he will look to continue that uptick in sharpness Monday night at Safeco Field against the Mariners and their ace, Felix Hernandez.

June was cruel to Lester (8-4, 4.41 ERA), the left-handed starter who tops the Red Sox depth chart while Clay Buchholz is on the DL. His ERA rose from 2.72 on May 15 to 4.61, its peak, on June 27.

However, that June 27 start — in which he allowed four earned runs in seven innings — could represent the start of a turnaround for Lester. He followed that up with seven more innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Padres last Wednesday, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out five.

He gave up half of those hits during a 32-pitch first inning, but Lester settled down after that in his eventual no-decision, paving the way for Jonny Gomes‘€™ walk-off dramatics.

‘€œThe team’€™s been doing pretty good,’€ Lester told reporters after the game. ‘€œI think I’€™ve thrown the ball better at times — better than what my line scores have been showing. There have been some bad ones mixed in there, but after last start [June 27] and this start, maybe start stringing some good ones together and get on a little bit of a roll.’€

Lester has found success against the team closest to his hometown of Tacoma, Wash. He is 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA while striking out 63 batters in 60 1/3 innings.

Hernandez — who Saturday was named an AL All-Star for the fourth time — has similar numbers against the Sox (6-2, 3.18 ERA).

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