The Boston Red Sox (27-34) finish their weekend series against the Detroit Tigers (33-25) on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Detroit took the first two games of the series and will look to complete the sweep. Boston has already been swept in 5 series this season.
The Tigers lineup roughed up Jon Lester last night for 5 runs and the bullpen didn't fare much better, yet the Red Sox nearly rallied against the shaky Joe Nathan in the 9th. Called upon to protect a 4-run lead, the Tigers closer gave up a pair of runs and allowed the winning run to come to the plate, but managed to escape with the lead intact by getting Stephen Drew to fly out to center.
The comeback may have fallen short, but perhaps the Sox can build on that momentum.
- John Lackey (6-4, 3.28 ERA) will be on the mound for Boston. He leads all Red Sox starters in wins and ERA and is the only pitcher in this rotation with a winning record.
- Mike Napoli has been activated from the DL and will start at first base. This lineup has sorely missed his ability to grind out at-bats and get on base, with his team leading .390 OBP.
- As another player rejoins the roster, Brock Holt once again is forced to move to another position. Boston can't afford to take his bat out of the lead-off spot right now, so they'll try him out in left field.
- Clay Buchholz threw a simulated game this afternoon. He said he's working on his mechanics, which he believes were altered by some bad habits he developed last year while trying to pitch through pain.
- Anibal Sanchez (2-2, 2.15 ERA) gets the start for Detroit. He led the AL in ERA last season and is off to an even better start this year, despite missing some time in May. He's given up 2 runs or less in each start since his return from the DL.
- Is this a bump in the road or the beginning of the end for Joe Nathan? His ERA is now up to a staggeringly high 7.04 and that doesn't appear to be a fluke. His strikeout rate (8.22 K/9) is the lowest it's been since he became a closer back in 2004 and his 1.91 K/BB rate is by far his worst since then as well. The Tigers took a risk that the 39 year old still had something left in the tank to help shore up the back end of their bullpen, which gave them a lot of trouble last season. So far that risk isn't paying off. If he doesn't turn things around soon, you have to wonder if the Tigers will give Joba Chamberlain a shot at the 9th inning.