Saturday's Red Sox matchups: John Lackey vs. Rick Porcello

May 17, 2014 - 6:05 am
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The Red Sox play the middle game of their weekend series against the Tigers on Saturday night, sending John Lackey to the mound against Rick Porcello. Lackey (5-2, 3.57 ERA) looks to continue his upward trend when he takes the hill against Detroit on Saturday. The right-hander has put in four straight quality starts, winning three of them, and hasn't lost a decision since April 18. In his most recent outing Sunday in Texas, Lackey held the Rangers to just two runs on seven hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in a 5-2 Red Sox win. The 35-year-old had the luxury of entering the game with a 3-0 lead, and threw 75 of his 105 pitches for strikes. He's walked a total of four batters in his last four starts to help improve his WHIP to 1.21. "It's nice to go out there when you already have a 3-0 lead," Lackey said after the game. "It kind of lets you relax a little bit and pound the strike zone." "He threw the ball great," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We jumped on them a little bit early and got some runs. That kind of put it in cruise control." Lackey takes a 6-3 record and a 4.55 career ERA against the Tigers entering Saturday's contest. But his last outing against Detroit was arguably his most memorable, as he shut out the Tigers on four hits in 6 2/3 innings in Game 3 of the American League championship series in Detroit to give the Sox a 2-1 series lead. The Red Sox lost both regular-season games that Lackey pitched against the Tigers last season, however, including a 3-0 loss at Fenway Park on Sept. 2 in which he gave up three runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. Lackey's had some troubles in his career against some of Detroit's most fearsome hitters as well. He's given up four home runs in 41 meetings with Tigers newcomer Ian Kinsler, who has a .429 batting average against the righty. Victor Martinez (.407 batting average), Rajai Davis (.393) and Miguel Cabrera (.333) have all had success against Lackey as well. If Lackey has been strong of late, Porcello has been even more impressive. Porcello has won his last five starts to improve to 6-1 for the season with a 3.22 ERA. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits and no walks in a 4-1 Tigers win over Baltimore on Monday, but was limited to just 83 pitches after feeling discomfort in his left side in the middle of the game. "He had a little bit of tightness in the side," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. "He fought me. He wanted to stay in. It being May, out of precaution I took him out of the game. If he had gone back out there and really injured himself, I would have had trouble sleeping." MLB.com reported that Porcello did some light throwing on Tuesday and is expected to have no restrictions for Saturday's start. While Porcello has only faced the Red Sox five times in his career, his memories at Fenway Park aren't good ones. Porcello took the loss out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the ALCS last October, failing to record a single out in the ninth inning before giving up the game-winning single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The 25-year-old's worst start against the Sox came on Sept. 4, 2013, in a 20-4 Tigers loss, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on seven hits and four walks in five forgettable innings of work. Tigers vs. John Lackey (RHP) Torii Hunter (58 plate appearances): .245 AVG/.310 OBP/.396 SLG, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 6 RBIs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts Ian Kinsler (41): .429/.488/.857, 4 HR, 1 triple, 1 double, 9 RBIs, 4 walks, 1 strikeout Victor Martinez (31): .407/.484/.444, 1 double, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts Rajai Davis (28): .393/.393/.536, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 9 strikeouts Miguel Cabrera (13): .333/.385/.667, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Alex Avila (9): .000/.222/.000, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts Austin Jackson (8): .375/.375/.500, 1 double, 3 strikeouts Don Kelly (6): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout Danny Worth (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI Red Sox vs. Porcello (RHP) A.J. Pierzynski (23 plate appearances): .227 AVG/.261 OBP/.364 SLG, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Grady Sizemore (16): .200/.250/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Mike Napoli (13): .333/.385/.667, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts Dustin Pedroia (12): .200/.250/.300, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout David Ortiz (7): .286/.286/.714, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout Will Middlebrooks (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout Shane Victorino (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 strikeout David Ross has a hit and a strikeout in two at-bats. Mike Carp has an RBI walk in his only at-bat.

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