Red Sox-White Sox series preview

July 07, 2014 - 9:13 am
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The Red Sox dropped a heartbreaker in 12 innings on Sunday, storming back from a 6-1 deficit with a five-run seventh inning only to fall in extras. With the defeat, the Red Sox fell to 1-5 on the homestand and to a season-high 10 games below .500 at 39-49. With the Rays claiming victory Sunday, the Red Sox now occupy the cellar of the AL East, nine games behind the first-place Orioles. The White Sox managed to close in on the AL Central lead in June, pulling within 2 1/2 games of the top spot, but have since faltered and fallen to fourth place, eight games behind the division-leading Tigers. They come in at 42-47, fresh off of a series win against the Mariners. The White Sox have dropped 14 of their last 19 contests against the Red Sox. Boston took two of three in Chicago earlier this season. As the All-Star Game rosters were announced on Sunday evening, it was revealed that Jon Lester would be the sole representative in the game for the Red Sox (except, of course, manager John Farrell), while Alexei Ramirez and rookie Jose Abreu will represent the White Sox. Starter Chris Sale is an option in the final vote, where fans choose one of five players to round out each team's roster. Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set. Monday: Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.22) vs. Scott Carroll (2-5, 5.05) Tuesday: Brandon Workman (1-2, 4.17) vs. John Danks (7-6, 4.12) Wednesday: TBD vs. Chris Sale (8-1, 2.16) Thursday: Jon Lester (9-7, 2.73) vs. Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.20) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Though these last few series haven't been pretty for the Red Sox, they can take away some positives, like the awakening of Dustin Pedroia's bat. The second baseman hadn't looked like himself at the plate for a while, hitting just .222 with a .292 OBP and just five extra-base hits from June 1-18. But his offensive output has picked up considerably over the last couple of weeks; he's batting .375 over his last 16 games, good for the fifth-best average in the majors since June 19. -- David Ortiz put together his second four-hit game of the season on Sunday, going 4-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a walk. The DH has seven hits in his last 12 at-bats and is hitting .323 with nine extra-base hits since June 17. -- Lester has turned in a pair of stellar performances his last two times out, lasting eight innings in each start. He hasn't allowed an earned run since June 22. Lester has shown why he deserved the All-Star Game nod, the third of his career, over the last month or so, posting a 0.96 ERA in his last five outings. WHO'S HOT: WHITE SOX -- Sale has been masterful as of late, allowing just nine earned runs over his last 35 innings of work. He's fanned 38 batters in that span, including a 12-strikeout performance in his last outing. The lefty is averaging almost 10 strikeouts per nine innings and owns a 2.16 ERA and 0.870 WHIP in 13 starts. -- With 27 home runs and a .616 slugging percentage, Abreu leads the majors in both categories. The rookie sensation has not necessarily hit for a high average, batting .276, nor has he gotten on base a ton (.325 OBP), but he's shown remarkable power. Abreu is hitting .316 with eight homers and 18 RBIs over his last 20 games. -- Right-handed reliever Jake Petricka has been dominant for the White Sox, with a 1.85 ERA in 48 2/3 innings this season. The set-up man has gone 11 innings without allowing a run, striking out eight and giving up just three hits. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- It was a rough day for A.J. Pierzynski during Saturday's doubleheader. In the first game, serving as the DH, he popped up four times, with three drifting into foul territory. However, he did go 1-for-4 with a single in the nightcap. Pierzynski is hitting .186 over his last 12 games. -- Though he's been so solid for the Red Sox all season long, Burke Badenhop had a terrible series against the Orioles, allowing five earned runs and six hits in just one-third of an inning. He was charged with a blown save in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, allowing two runs while failing to record an out. -- It was a very sloppy series for the Red Sox on defense against the Orioles. The Sox committed a total of seven errors over the course of three games. Xander Bogaerts was the only member of the team to make two errors, his 12th and 13th of the season. Even usually solid defenders Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli committed a miscue apiece during the series. But there were some defensive highlights as well, mostly from Jackie Bradley Jr., who made a couple of impressive catches and strong throws in center field. WHO'S NOT: WHITE SOX -- Catcher Tyler Flowers is in the midst of a very ugly slump. In 29 games since May 26, Flowers is hitting just .096 with a .157 OBP and .160 slugging mark. He hasn't had multiple hits in a game since May 23. The poor production comes after Flowers had hit .354 through the month of April. He's compiled a .226/.285/.311 line with just 10 extra-base hits this season. -- Conor Gillaspie has been on of the club's hottest hitters all season, but he finds himself in a bit of a slump lately. The infielder is 5-for-his-last-35 (though two of those went for extra bases) with nine strikeouts. Despite the mini-slump, Gillaspie has had a great season and comes into the series batting .310/.361/.427 in 64 games.  -- Over the last month or so, White Sox closer Ronald Belisario has allowed runs in six of his nine appearances. He's gotten into just two games so far this month, once in a low-leverage situation (he allowed a run on two hits in an inning) and then three frames to finish out an extra-inning contest, taking the loss after allowing a run on three hits. Since June 9, Belisario has posted a 6.97 ERA, giving up eight earned runs and 18 hits over 10 1/3 innings. Despite getting hit hard, he hasn't allowed a walk since May and is averaging less than two per nine innings.

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