Sunday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: John Lackey vs. James Shields

August 11, 2013 - 4:47 am

The Red Sox-Royals contest Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, the finale of a four-game weekend set, features a pair of starters in the form of right-handers John Lackey and James Shields who probably could empathize with each other. They both have had strong seasons '€” Lackey owning a 3.21 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, Shields 3.36 and 1.27 marks '€” but don'€™t exactly get the offensive support they might appreciate. The Red Sox average 3.33 runs in games Lackey starts, while the Royals put up 4.03 in games Shields pitches. There was no greater example of that than Lackey'€™s most recent start, Monday'€™s 2-0 loss to the lowly Astros. Lackey tossed six innings of two-run ball while mostly scattering eight hits and two walks and striking out 10, his second-highest total all season. The team survived a bit of a scare in the second when Lackey rolled his ankle fielding a slow bouncer off the bat of Matt Dominguez, who was out at first on the play. Lackey shook it off and went on to pitch four more solid innings, only to take the tough-luck loss after throwing 113 pitches. '€œJohn had very good stuff, got some key strikeouts when he needed to,'€ manager John Farrell said to the media afterward. '€œObviously when a guy goes down making a play, you'€™ve got immediate concern. We continued to monitor it closely every pitch he threw, every inning he went through. There'€™s no question he pitches with a lot of heart. He never wants to come out of a game. Unfortunately, he pitches on a day we come up on the short end.'€ Overall, Lackey arguably has been the Red Sox' best starter throughout 2013, but he has seen a dip in his effectiveness since he last won a game July 12. In four starts since, he has an ERA nearing five while allowing opponents a .330 average and .851 OPS, raising his season ERA from 2.78 to 3.21. Shields, meanwhile, saw his lack of run support continue in his last outing, though a handful of runs would not have done him or the Royals much good. In a 7-0 loss to the Twins Tuesday, he gave up all seven of those runs on eight hits and two walks. Shields collected as many strikeouts as he allowed home runs (three). Coincidentally, April 20 '€” Shields'€™ only start against the Sox this season '€” is another prime example of his lack of run support. He limited the Red Sox to one run in six innings, but the Royals fell, 4-3. That game is best remembered for Daniel Nava'€™s game-winning, three-run homer in the eighth in the first game at Fenway Park since the Boston Marathon bombing five days prior. Red Sox vs. Shields (RHP) David Ortiz (62 plate appearances): .333/.419/.667, 9 doubles, 3 home runs, 16 RBIs, 8 walks, 7 strikeouts Dustin Pedroia (56): .308/.357/.462, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts Jacoby Ellsbury (51): .250/.294/.417, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts Mike Napoli (21): .200/.238/.400, 1 double, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts Jarrod Saltalamacchia (16): .000/.125/.000, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts Daniel Nava (11): .222/.364/.556, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts Stephen Drew (5): .400/.400/.400, 1 strikeout Mike Carp (4): .250/.250/.500, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout Jonny Gomes (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Shane Victorino (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Brock Holt and Ryan Lavarnway have never faced Shields. Royals vs. Lackey (RHP) Miguel Tejada (48 plate appearances): .298 BA/.292 OBP/.447 SLG, 4 doubles, 1 home run, 6 RBIs, 10 strikeouts Billy Butler (12): .500/.500/.750, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 4 strikeouts Alex Gordon (11): .400/.455/.600, 2 doubles, 2 strikeouts Alcides Escobar (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Eric Hosmer (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1  home run, 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout Mike Moustakas (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk No other Royals have faced Lackey.