16 April 2010
Josh Beckett (1-0, 6.17)
Wade Davis (0-1, 6.00)
Beckett bounced back from a rough Opening Night against the Yankees with a 7-inning victory over the Royals his last time out. Beckett held the Royals three runs in the outing, but allowed 9 hits while fanning four. He'll need to be better than that tonight against the Rays, who run often and are coming off of an offensive explosion in Baltimore. The Rays swept the series, scoring 22 runs on 34 hits, including 7 homers. Beckett does have a few things going for him though. He's never lost at Fenway in April since coming to Boston, going 8-0 with a 4.00 ERA in 10 starts. He's also 5-0 with a 2.86 ERA in his last seven starts at Fenway against Tampa Bay. It will be interesting to see if Francona gives Jason Varitek the start again over Victor Martinez after watching Beckett work better with Tek in Game 2. No matter who is catching, the Rays will be running wild if they earn a few baserunners...
David is the next promising rookie to come out of Tampa Bay. Last season, after going 10-8 with a 3.40 ERA in Triple A, Davis was called up to the majors for six starts. He went 2-2, finishing with a 3.72 ERA while totaling 36 strikeouts in 36 innings. The Rays toyed with keeping Davis in the minors to start the 2010 season, but decided he was a better option than Andy Sonnanstine, who was sent to the bullpen. Davis drew the Yankees in his first start of 2010 and struggled, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks through six innings. The Red Sox are equally patient and that could be trouble for Davis, who has averaged 3-4 walks per game in his young career. David did face the Sox last season and was shelled, allowing 8 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks... this is what I'm talking about.
B.J. Upton is 6 for 20 (.300) with 3 doubles against Beckett, but he's also whiffed 7 times. Upton hit two homers in the series finale against the Orioles and was 5 for 13 in the series. Carl Crawford is the guy I'm worried about though. He leads the Rays with .367 BA and is 11 for 36 (.306) against Beckett. I'm sure you all remember when he stole 6 bases against Brad Penny and Varitek last season... he had 13 steals in 18 games againtst he Sox last year and opponents have already begun running at will against us this season.
Davis was awful against the Sox last year, so we'll look at who's hot right now for the key matchup. Dustin Pedroia is the obvious choice since he currently leads the team in almost every category and is a .332 career hitter at Fenway, but Davis does have a history of struggling with lefties (4.70 FIP in 2009 AAA, 4.88 FIP in 2008). The Sox will likely have David Ortiz back in the lineup, with Drew, Hermida, and Martinez or Varitek also hitting from the left side, and I'm going with Hermida as my key matchup.
Notes: It should be interesting to see how the Fenway Faithful treat David Ortiz tonight and throughout this 10-game homestand. The Rays are almost as hated as the Yankees in these parts and with the AL East expected to come down to the wire, I fear the crowd will turn on him quickly if he continues to falter in key situations.
The Rays will follow Davis with James Shields and Matt Garza, so nothing will be easy for the Red Sox this weekend.
It's likley to rain on and off all weekend, so we may not even get all three games in... If there is a need for a makeup game, the Rays return to Boston at the end of June and both clubs have the 28th off right now.
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