Sunday's Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. Hiroki Kuroda

September 08, 2013 - 4:24 am
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Jon Lester looks to continue a recent stretch of success when he faces off against Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, with the Red Sox looking to complete a sweep of the four-game series. With six straight quality starts under his belt, Lester appears to have returned to the All-Star form he deviated from last year and for a good part of this one. In his last six starts, Lester'€™s ERA sits at 1.71. During that time, Lester, a former two-time All-Star who averaged a 3.33 ERA between 2008 and 2011, decreased his ERA from 4.52 to 3.88. His most recent start came on Tuesday against a daunting Tigers lineup, featuring power hitters Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, along with a host of complementary bats. Lester passed the test, as he allowed one run in seven innings and struck out a season-high nine -- his most since Aug. 12, 2012, when he struck out 12 Indians. He also walked zero batters for the first time since Aug. 2, a 7-6 loss to Arizona where he allowed six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. '€œObviously I gave up some hits last night, but the biggest thing was no walks, no extra baserunners that weren'€™t earned,'€ said Lester in an appearance on WAAF'€™s Hill-Man Morning Show a day later. Lester matches up with a Yankees team that he'€™s already seen twice at Yankee Stadium this season. He won the Opening Day start in the Bronx, despite lasting only five innings. Almost two months later he took a loss after 6 1/3 innings of work, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks. Kuroda has been the face of positive consistency for the past four years. The former Japanese star owns a 3.20 ERA and a 1.165 WHIP since 2010 in stints with the Dodgers and Yankees. However, Kuroda'€™s last four starts have been the antithesis of that positive consistency. His poor stretch, which features a 7.43 ERA in 23 innings, began with an Aug. 17 start at Fenway Park. The Red Sox mashed 11 hits and scored five runs (three earned) off Kuroda in 5 2/3 innings. Next, Kuroda allowed a season-high seven earned runs at Tampa Bay, then took his third straight loss on the road vs. Toronto, again allowing seven runs (five earned). In his last outing, Tuesday against the White Sox, Kuroda did not factor in the decision after he pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs. Despite the recent struggles, Kuroda'€™s 2.99 ERA puts him in seventh place among American League starting pitchers. In four starts vs. Boston this year, Kuroda has three losses and a 4.66 ERA. Red Sox vs. Kuroda (RHP) Stephen Drew (35): .250/.286/.313, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts Dustin Pedroia (25): .333/.360/.500, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Jacoby Ellsbury (24): .348/.375/.478, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts Shane Victorino (24): .273/.333/.364, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts Jarrod Saltalamacchia (21): .250/.286/.400, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts Daniel Nava (21): .353/.476/.529, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts Mike Carp (15): .333/.333/.467, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts David Ortiz (15): .583/.600/.917, 1 HR, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts Jonny Gomes (12): .100/.167/.100, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Mike Napoli (10): .333/.400/.333, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Ryan Lavarnway (9): .125/.222/.125, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts Quintin Berry (9): .250/.333/.375, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Will Middlebrooks (7): .286/.286/.286, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts Xander Bogaerts, John McDonald and Brandon Snyder have not faced Kuroda Yankees vs. Lester (LHP) Derek Jeter (69): .333/.391/.397, 1 HR, 1 double, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts Robinson Cano (68): .226/.279/.290, 4 doubles, 5 RBIs, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts Vernon Wells (51): .171/.314/.317, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 8 walks, 6 strikeouts Alex Rodriguez (46): .214/.283/.524, 3 HR, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 7 RBIs, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts Ichiro Suzuki (41): .341/.357/.488, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts Curtis Granderson (36): .281/.361/.500, 2 HR, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts Lyle Overbay (28): .360/.429/.680, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 8 RBIs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts Mark Reynolds (23): .333/.478/.611, 1 HR , 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts Brett Gardner (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 walks, 3 strikeouts Eduardo Nunez (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Alfonso Soriano (9): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts Chris Stewart (7): .500/.500/.1.250, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout David Adams (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 strikeout Austin Romine has not faced Lester.
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