The Boston Red Sox (42-52) take on the Houston Astros (40-55) in their last game before the All-Star break. Boston could really use a win today to avoid a potential double-digit deficit and last place spot in the AL East heading into the unofficial mid-point of the season.
Boston let another close one slip away yesterday when manager John Farrell left starter Jake Peavy in for one batter too long. Peavy came out to start the 8th inning and gave up a lead-off double to Jose Altuve that led to the winning run. Farrell probably should have started the inning with his bullpen, but you can understand his thinking in this situation. Peavy had pitched well, his pitch count had barely eclipsed 100 and he'd be getting some extra rest before his next start. Most importantly, he may have wanted to give Peavy the chance to get through another inning in hopes that he may earn the win. Peavy has 12 quality starts this season and only 1 win to show for it. Every other starter in the AL with that many quality starts has at least 5 wins. Peavy gets the worst run support in the league at 3.16 runs per game, which is why any team in the market to trade for him will be ignoring his win-loss record.
- Clay Buchholz (3-5, 6.11 ERA) will be on the mound for Boston. He still hasn't quite returned to form since his return from the DL, with his biggest issue being the long ball. Buchholz has given up a total of 5 home runs over his last 3 starts. He has shown some drastic improvement with his control by avoiding walks, allowing only 1 walk over those 3 starts.
- Buchholz is also scheduled to start Boston's first game after the break on Friday, followed by Rubby De La Rosa, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy.
- Yesterday's loss means the Sox are no longer undefeated in the Christian Vazquez era. Then again, the rookie catcher didn't play in the game, so the winning streak with Vazquez in the lineup will still be on the line today.
- Jackie Bradley moves back up to 6th in the order today as Farrell continues to tinker with his lineup. Bradley has been swinging a hot bat this month, hitting .393/.433/.464 in July. A big factor in his recent success has been cutting down on his strikeouts, which may be attributed to altering his stance at the plate. JBJ has whiffed only 5 times in his last 28 at-bats.
- Shane Victorino is scheduled to play in single-A Lowell today and could rejoin the team on Friday coming out of the break. On the other hand, Farrell cautioned, "I've said a lot of things, and it's changed." He still hasn't made it through a full game in his rehab assignment yet, so don't get your hopes up.
- Jarred Cosart (9-6, 4.17 ERA) gets the start for Houston. The 24-year old picked up a win last time out despite giving up 5 runs in 5 innings, but he's now been roughed up in each of his last two starts.
- With a pair of hits yesterday, Houston's Jose Altuve has regained the AL lead in batting average (.339). He's barely holding off Texas' Adrian Beltre (.338), with today's action likely determining who will enter the break in the lead. Seattle's Robison Cano (.334) remains in striking distance, so this batting title race should be fun to watch in the second half of the season.