Beginning on Monday night, the Red Sox will play a three game road series against the Kansas City Royals after losing 5 of 6 games on their recent six game home stand, including a three-game sweep by the Orioles. It’s been a strange up and down season so far for the Red Sox with more downs than ups. Their best stretch came during their last road trip, winning 6 of 7 games against the Twins and the White Sox. That road trip came right after losing the last 5 games of their prior home stand. The Red Sox surprisingly have played better on the road than at Fenway to this point in the season. They are 7-6 on the road, but they have won only 4 of 14 contests at Fenway. Three left handed pitchers are scheduled to take on the Sox for the Royals as the Red Sox try to shake off the results the six game home stand and get back on a winning track.
The Red Sox hope to be road warriors for this abbreviated three game set. The Royals, who have the second worst record in the league at 9 – 18, seem like the perfect opponent for the Red Sox to get things turned around in the right direction.
On Monday evening, Doubront takes the hill for the Red Sox coming off his worst and shortest start of the young season. He made it through only 4 innings against the light hitting Oakland A’s giving up 5 earned runs on 6 hits. Surprisingly, he struck out 8 A’s batters in those 4 innings. He looked dominating at times, but his command was so erratic that he built up a pitch count of 94 in the 4 innings of work. That performance came on the heels of two quality starts by Felix, including his first win of the season against the White Sox on the road. Overall, his record is 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 5 starts.
Jonathan Sanchez came to the Royals from the Giants in an off season trade for Melky Cabrera. Sanchez has been erratic throughout his seven year career in which he has averaged more than 9 strikeouts per 9 innings, but he has also allowed almost 5 walks per game. He is much tougher on left-handed batters than righties. He has a 1 win and 1 loss with a 5.24 ERA so far for the Royals in 5 starts. His last start was against the Tigers, and it was his best outing of the season pitching 5 innings of 1 hit and no run baseball.
On Tuesday, the Daniel Bard experiment continues. The converted late-inning reliever makes his 5th start of the season. He has 1 win as a starter against 3 losses. Overall, he has 2 wins on the season. One of his two wins came in relief. He had a poor outing his last time out against the A’s giving up 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings of pitching. Most surprisingly, the fire-balling Bard, who hits the high 90’s with his fastball, struck out only 1 Oakland A in 5 1/3 innings. The light-hitting A’s struck out 30 times in the other 21 2/3 innings of that series.
Second year pitcher, Dan Duffy will pitch for the Royals on Tuesday opposing Bard. The 23 year old Duffy is 2-2 with a 3.57 ERA in 4 starts for the Royals this season. He has been striking out batters at the rate of more than 10 per 9 innings. In his last start against the Yankees he earned a win with 5 1/3 innings of work giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks with 6 k’s. In 2 games against the Red Sox in 2011, Duffy was 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA.
In Wednesday’s finale, Jon Lester will pitch for the Red Sox. Lester’s results have been disappointing thus far in 2012. He has a 1-2 record with a 4.62 ERA in 6 starts. He has put up 4 quality starts in those 6 outings, and at times, he has pitched brilliantly. He’s had a problem stringing together quality starts, and run support has been an issue in a few games. For his career, Jon is 5-1 against the Royals with a 1.30 ERA in 7 starts.
35 year old Journeyman Bruce Chen will toe the rubber for the Royals on Wednesday. The Royals are Chen’s 10th team in his 14 year career. He seems to finally have found a home in Kansas City. He has won 24 games over the last 2 seasons with the Royals. Prior to 2010, he’d only had one other season where he won 10 games or more. He’s off to a rough start in 2012 like the rest of the Royals. He’s 0-4 with a 4.98 ERA in 6 starts. Although he is left-handed, over the course of his career, he has been slightly more effective against right handed batters.
If the Red Sox can get a quality start from either Doubront or Bard, they should take 2 of the 3 games with Lester pitching like an ace on Wednesday.
Player to watch
After playing a 13 inning and 17 inning game in the last 3 days, the Red Sox really need to get some good length from Doubront on Monday night. The pen will be pretty well spent for tonight’s game. Doubront needs to get deep into the game.