By Matt Straub
The Boston Red Sox are finally owning up to their issues and making changes to their starting rotation. They have won three of the last four on a crucial early road trip.
Is there life in Boston again? We’ll find out after this three-game set in Seattle, a team with great pitching and enough hitting to be scary, even if they have a poor record.
It’s hard to make a May series the key to a season, but this series could give us a real sign as to whether or not the Red Sox are starting to find themselves again. Let’s take a look at what they’re up against.
Boston Red Sox (16-18, 4th Place AL East)
at Seattle Mariners (15-18, 3rd Place AL West)
Thursday, 10:10 p.m.
Joe Kelly (1-2, 6.35 ERA) vs. Roenis Elias (0-1, 3.86)
Friday, 10:10 p.m.
Clay Buchholz (2-4, 5.73) J.A. Happ (3-1, 3.29)
Saturday, 9:10 p.m.
Rick Porcello (3-2, 4.50) vs. Felix Hernandez (6-0, 1.85)
Sunday, 4:10 p.m.
TBA vs. James Paxton (1-2. 4.31)
The Red Sox actually won two-of-three against the putrid A’s, and got some decent pitching in the process. That the Red Sox combined to throw a shutout Wednesday is stunning to a fan of the team which has watched them struggle from the mound. Of course, Tuesday’s disaster means we can’t get too excited, but it’s a start, as are the wins. The Mariners had a four-game win streak ended Wednesday by the Padres, but have won five-of-eight coming into this series.
Three Red Sox Storylines
1. Sunday’s TBA is because Justin Masterson is heading to the DL with a made up injury ... I mean "general fatigue." He never had a big fastball but what he had is gone now, and his other pitches aren’t good enough right now to make up for it. Steven Wright, a veteran knuckleballer who saved the bullpen with a long outing in relief of Masterson Tuesday, will likely get the call. He won’t be great, but he can’t be worse than Masterson has been.
2. We’ll see what the Red Sox can do with some confidence. Winning two-of-three doesn’t necessarily make a season, but it is something to build on for a team which has lacked any confidence lately.
3. The Red Sox offense will need to go old-school here and be the team which, with help from the Yankees, used to play four-hour games because they took a million pitches. Getting to the bullpen and away from Hernandez and Elias will be important.
Three Mariners To Watch
1. Because stars are made in the playoffs, Felix Hernandez is probably the most underrated pitcher in baseball. He is 8-2 against Boston and off to one of the best starts of his remarkable career, which recently saw him become one of the youngest pitchers ever to reach 2,000 career strikeouts.
2. Many wondered what Nelson Cruz would do in a bigger park. Well, he leads the team in average, homers and RBI. He is on pace for an historic offensive season, with 15 homers already to his credit. I think the signing worked out.
3. Robinson Cano is no stranger to the Red Sox, but he isn’t off to a great start. This would be a terrible time for him to get going, however, if you’re a Sox fan.
After a needed off day Monday, the Red Sox get back to Fenway to face Texas.