The Boston Red Sox continue their West Coast swing on Monday, as they do battle with the Seattle Mariners in the opening contest of a three-game series.
Boston’s roller-coaster 2014 campaign hit a downturn with a series loss in Oakland this weekend. However, in a season where 85 victories can win an AL Wild Card, the Red Sox are far from out of it.
The Mariners find themselves just percentage points behind the Baltimore Orioles for the AL’s second Wild Card after winning six of their last eight.
Home: Seattle Mariners (40-36, 17-20 home)
Away: Boston Red Sox (35-41, 15-22 away)
Don’t count the Mariners as lucky to be four games over .500 so close to the mid-point of the season. Despite two one-run victories this weekend, the team is just 8-12 in games decided by the slimmest of margins.
In fact, per ESPN, they are underperforming compared to an expected 43-33 record.
Red Sox Notes:
Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop’s run at history came to an abrupt halt on Sunday in Oakland.
Per Eric Gilmore of ESPN Boston, Badenhop had thrown a career-best 18 scoreless innings in 17 outings leading up to Sunday. He also was riding a streak of 32.1 consecutive innings without an earned run, trailing only Koji Uehara (33.2 innings in 2013) and Dick Radatz (33 innings in 1963) for the Red Sox record.
However, with the Red Sox leading 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Badenhop gave up back-to-back-to-back RBI singles to Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, and Derek Norris – ending both the scoreless and the earned run streaks before Badenhop was pulled without retiring a batter.
No matter. Even though the A’s tied the game off of Koji Uehara in the ninth, a David Ortiz 10th inning home run might have started a more important streak for the Red Sox – a winning streak, as Boston salvaged a game of their four-game set with Oakland by a final count of 7-6.
Just a few days ago, the Kansas City Royals were America’s darlings – winning ten straight to move up to the top of the AL Central standings.
Then, the Seattle Mariners happened.
Although the M’s only outscored the Royals by a count of 11-7 at Kaufman Stadium over the weekend, they put together three-straight clutch victories with each game decided by two runs or less.
Saturday and Sunday were especially impressive, as the Mariners’ pitching staff held the Royals to just two runs over those last two victories – vaulting the Mariners to a season-high four games over .500.
What to Watch For:
Monday night gives us one of the best pitching matchups of the week, as Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (8-2, 2.22) faces off with Boston’s John Lackey (8-4, 2.96).
Lackey is coming off a nine-inning masterpiece against the Twins on Wednesday where he allowed no earned runs and just three hits, walking one and striking out nine in a 2-1 Red Sox victory.
Hernandez, on the other hand, has been absolutely brilliant all June long. He has 1.23 ERA on the month, giving up just 19 hits in 29.1 innings while posting a ridiculous 13/1 K/BB ratio (39 Ks, 3BBs).
What They’re Saying About the Red Sox:
Ortiz, Pedroia need help in All-Star Game vote (Boston Dirt Dogs)
Buchholz plans on being less predictable (Official Site of the Red Sox)
What They’re Saying About the Mariners:
McClendon not totally sold on defensive shifts (Official Site of the Mariners)
Elias, Zunino lead Mariners to sweep over Royals (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)