Bos2

Series beginning
06/10/2022

Boston Red Sox

The Mariners went to Boston three weeks ago and didn't enjoy the experience. The Red Sox swept the M's in a four-game set, outscoring Seattle 33-18, and this weekend the M's are looking for revenge. Boston was under .500 back then, but thanks to a seven-game winning streak (snapped Thursday by the Angels of all people) are now above the break-even mark, though still 11½ games back of the Yankees in their division.

The Sox have a formidable lineup with OF/DH J.D. Martínez leading the pack with a .351/.415/.543 batting line. 3B Rafael Devers leads the league in hits and is second in runs scored with a dozen homers thrown in for good measure. The supporting cast may not have the season-long success of those two, but they're catching up—1B Bobby Dalbec is hot, batting .290/.349/.500 over the past two weeks; catcher Christian Vazquez added 78 points to his batting average in the last month; 2B Trevor Story was barely over .200 when the M's went to Boston, since then he's hit .270 with a .353 OBP and seven homers; OF Alex Verdugo is batting .387 in June; even light-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. is batting .300 since the M's left Fenway Park. The Sox will be without CF Enrique Hernández, who went on the injured list during Boston's last series with a hip flexor strain.

2022 Record: 30-28 (.517), 4th in AL East.

Last Series: Won three of four against the Angels in Anaheim.

Most interesting player: Second baseman Trevor Story signed a big free-agent deal with Boston over the offseason, then started his Red Sox career with a month-long slump. He's picked things up lately and is winning over the Fenway faithful.

Pitching matchups: Friday Boston will go with veteran Rich Hill against the Mariners' Marco Gonzales. At age 42, Hill has lost a step or two but can still get it done and has allowed 0 or 1 run in four of his ten starts despite not having the endurance to last past the 5th inning more often than not; Marco is coming off a pair of hard-luck losses, losing 2-1 and 3-2 to the Astros and Rangers despite strong 7+ inning efforts. Saturday will see Michael Wacha face George Kirby. Wacha has been the surprise of New England, having a career year at age 30 and coming off of a shutout his last time out, beating the Angels 1-0; Kirby had two of the best starts of his rookie year in his last turns, allowing a total of two runs over 12 frames against Baltimore and Texas. For Sunday's finale, Garrett Whitlock will take on Robbie Ray. Whitlock only lasted three innings when he faced Seattle in May and has averaged less than four innings per start, though he did have his first two quality starts prior to he his last outing, a four-frame, four-run effort in Anaheim; Ray lost to the Red Sox in May, giving up four runs over six frames, and has struggled all year, though he earned a win against the Astros his last time out with a change of repertoire.

Splits

Last ten 7-3
Away 17-14
vs. LHP 9-4
vs. RHP 21-24
One-run games 7-8
vs. AL West 15-5
vs. Mariners 4-0

Who’s Hot & Not

Last ten games

Alex Verdugo
.333/.395/.436, 4 2B, 6 RBI

Xander Bogaerts
.316/.366/.526, 6 XBH, 6 RBI

Franchy Cordero
.094/.147/.219, 10 Ks

Last 3 series vs. Seattle

5/22/22 BOS 8, SEA 4
5/21/22 BOS 6, SEA 5
5/20/22 BOS 7, SEA 3
5/19/22 BOS 12, SEA 6
9/15/21 BOS 9, SEA 4
9/14/21 BOS 8, SEA 4
9/13/21 SEA 5, BOS 4
4/25/21 BOS 5, SEA 3
4/24/21 SEA 8, BOS 2
4/23/21 BOS 6, SEA 5
4/22/21 SEA 7, BOS 3

Manager

cora

Alex Cora: The little brother of 1990s Mariner fan-favorite Joey Cora, Alex got himself caught up in the Houston Astros' cheating scandal while he was on the Astros' coaching staff in 2017, Houston's World Series "championship" year. Cora had already led the Red Sox to a World Series title of their own in his rookie season as a big-league manager, 2018, when the scandal broke and he was found out. Even so, after the scandal was fully investigated in 2019, the Red Sox fired him and gave the reins to bench coach Ron Roenicke, which turned out to be a short-term hiatus, perhaps even a misdirect. Cora was suspended by Major League Baseball for a year as punishment for his part of the scandal, so he wouldn't have been eligible to manage in 2020 anyway; then in November, almost immediately after the suspension was over, the club re-hired him on a two-year contract (with two additional option years). The Red Sox had their own, smaller-scale scandal in 2018 involving a video replay employee stealing signs, but Cora was cleared of any involvement there. "I deserve my suspension," Cora said prior to 2020’s mini-season. "We made a mistake as a group, the entire [Houston] team." Despite claims to have had a list of managerial candidates, the Red Sox apparently were not considering anyone else to manage this year and fired Roenicke immediately following a last-place finish in 2020.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has been greatly criticized for being too lenient on the Astros and former Astros involved in the scandal; now both Cora and Houston's former manager, A.J. Hinch, are back in the drivers' seats as Major League managers (Hinch was hired by the Detroit Tigers) having only had to sit out what turned out to be a bit more than a third of a season. Though Cora may well be remorseful for Astrogate, many outside of Red Sox Nation feel he (and Hinch and others from the ’17 Astros) have no business being back in a big-league dugout so soon, but to be fair to Boston, Cora did serve out his proscribed sentence and he was extremely popular with Red Sox players, so re-hiring him might be the best move they could have made from a purely baseball point of view. But it still has a stink of something dishonest about it, as if Cora's firing was a mere PR tactic to show that the Red Sox were on the side of righteous fair play, but just for the moment and as soon as attention moved on to something else any such principles would fade away.

Familiar Face

PaxBos

James Paxton: We won't see him this time around as Big Maple is still on the shelf after the injury suffered in his first start of last year for the Mariners. Returning to Seattle after unhappy times in New York, Paxton's season lasted just 113 innings before his happy Mariner homecoming was sunk. Paxton underwent Tommy John surgery last April and isn't expected to see his first action with the Red Sox until August or September. The Sox signed him to a contract that is essentially a three-year deal with an out for them after this season if it doesn't appear he'll be healthy for 2023. The Canadian southpaw has been injury-prone for his entire career, but when healthy has been a standout pitcher. In six years with Seattle (2013-2018), Pax was 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA over 102 games, including a no-hitter thrown against the Blue Jays in 2018. Seattle traded him to the Yankees following the ’18 season for pitchers Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson and outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams.

Franchise History

Boston Red Sox(1908 - present)
 
World Champions:1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2018
League Champions:1904, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986
Division Titles:1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2007, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018

— Notes —

Fenway Park's 37-foot high left field wall, known as the "Green Monster," is there to compensate for the short distance from home plate to the left field fence, yes? Well, it does serve that purpose, but it was built in 1914 because Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey didn't want the eateries across the street to have an unobstructed view of games. In Yawkey's view, if people were to watch the Sox, they would pay for tickets.

Only the 5th Aruban to play Major League Baseball, Xander Bogaerts speaks four languages—English, Dutch, Spanish, and Papiamento (the principal language in Aruba).

Enrique Hernández goes by his nickname, which is all well and good aloud, but can be an issue in print. Pronounced "KEY-kay," the Spanish name is spelled K-I-K-E, which doesn't go over well with a large segment of the English-speaking populace. "Teams started using an accent mark [when spelling it] to avoid controversy," Hernández said. Even though the accent is (a) not proper grammatically and (b) used on the é when the pronunciation would place it on the í, Hernández is cool with it. "I don’t mind. If you don’t read it in Spanish, it can be offensive."

Relief pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura, now in his second season on this side of the Pacific, was once sidelined with an unusual injury—"long thoracic nerve paralysis," caused by an acupuncture treatment from a team trainer for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. Per Japanese custom, the trainer, the team president, heck, maybe even the editor of the Yomiuri Shimbun had to apologize profusely for damaging the Giants pitcher, but that didn't stop them from trading Sawamura to Chiba later on when his performance faltered; after the trade, in midseason 2020, Sawamura's fastball recovered to its former velocity and he pitched to a sub-2.00 ERA and a sub-1.000 WHIP for the Chiba Marines.