The Boston Red Sox (42-51) take on the Houston Astros (39-55) in a matinee game on Saturday. Boston opened the series with an emphatic win last night, piling up a dozen hits and 8 runs. The Red Sox have won three straight for the first time since sweeping the Minnesota Twins nearly a month ago, averaging 5.6 runs per game during the streak.
The Red Sox are undefeated in the Christian Vazquez era, whose major league debut has coincided with the team's winning streak. Coincidence? Well, maybe to some extent. We are dealing with an awfully small sample size after all. Vazquez has also only played in two games so far, but he's already flashed his defensive skills behind the plate and last night he added some production with his bat – going 3 for 4 and driving in 3 runs. He's quickly earning the respect of this pitching staff and no longer having A.J. Pierzynski around may be a bit of addition by subtraction for the clubhouse chemistry.
- Jake Peavy (1-7, 4.64 ERA) gets the start for Boston. Yes, he's still here. Rumors continue to swirl about potential trades that could ship the veteran starter out of town, but it hasn't happened yet. There's still a solid chance Peavy gets traded this month, possibly during next week's All-Star break. Even if the Red Sox haven't quite resided to giving up on this season, Peavy would be better off pitching for an NL team and Boston has plenty of quality young arms that would be ready to step in to his vacant spot.
- Stephen Drew will have a seat with a lefty on the mound, allowing Brock Holt to get his second career start at SS. He went 0 for 4 at the plate in his only other appearance at the position. Let's hope that trend doesn't continue because the Red Sox really don't have another backup to Drew on the roster right now ever since Jonathan Herrera was optioned back to the minors. They need Holt to be able to hold down the position defensively without it impacting him at the plate in order to allow them to sit Drew against lefties. Or just to sit Drew against anyone.
- After moving up in the order yesterday and responding with a pair of hits, Jackie Bradley has been bumped back down to 8th today. Despite batting left-handed, he's actually hit lefties better this season, so the pitching matchup doesn't seem to be the reason for the move. Xander Bogaerts steals the 6th spot from him, despite that he hasn't been able to hit against anyone lately.
- The catching tandem continues to flip-flop each game, with David Ross getting the start today. Vazquez will have to continue to be the team's good luck charm from the bench today.
- Brett Oberholtzer (2-7, 4.66 ERA) has been called up to start in place of Collin McHugh (finger). Oberholtzer last pitched for the Astros on July 3 and was knocked around for 5 runs by the Angels.
- Jose Altuve is the Astros lone All-Star representative this season. He's second in the AL in hitting with a .337 average and leads the league in steals by a mile with 41.