Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox (4 games)
As the Red Sox come back from Texas after being swept by the Rangers they will return to Fenway to face the Minnesota Twins. The Sox finished what has been their worst series of the year as they were just completely shut down on both ends. The Texas pitchers were strong and their bats were 10 time stronger. In the finale of the Ranger's series on Sunday Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino both took the day off and will be back in the lineup tonight and throughout the rest of the series assuming Victorino's back is in full form. Also David Ortiz extended his 25 game hitting streak after a monster home run in Sunday's game off of Darvish in the first inning. From the Twins side first baseman, Justin Morneau requested to be moved to the DH spot because of soreness but still wants to hit so it will be interesting to see who takes the 1B position for this series if that request goes through.
Game 1: Clay Buchholz (6-0) vs. Vance Worley (0-4)
Buchholz enters the game as the best pitcher in baseball so far and should be able to continue that hot streak as he plays Monday night. Clay looks to be the first pitcher to reach 7 wins this year in the majors and possibly even get his ERA below 1. Buchholz has been very strong versus the Twins lineup as he is 3-0 in the past 3 years with a 2.49 ERA in four starts against them. Buchholz has dominated the wins but to truly be a good pitcher you must keep the batters of the bases as he has. THis year so far batters are hitting just .178 off of Buchholz and those who do reach base are not very lucky as he has stranded 91% of them. "He doesn't abandon any one of those four pitches when he's had men on base," Farrell said. "That's why he's left a number of guys stranded." The main struggle that Buchholz is going to see is how closely he will be watched tonight and over his next few starts. Last week Buchholz was accused of applying illegal substrances to his forearm to doctor the ball.
Source: Umpires and MLB watching clay Buchholz very closely tonight in start vs Twins afteraccused of doctoring ball by jays broadcasters— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) May 6, 2013
To face Buchholz will be Twins' pitcher Vance Worley who is entering this game looking for his first win of the season. Worley who is currently 0-4 has let hitters hit .362 off of him so far and his last game was not one for his history books. Worley allowed 6 runs on 10 hits including 3 home runs that just rattled him. Clearly not what the Twins wanted when they traded for him this offseason. The best part to Worley's season so far has been his ability to find the strike zone and use it to his advantage. In his 5 starts Worley has only walked 9 which overall has been the story of the Twins rotation. Worley enters with a 7.22 ERA as he continues to struggle but hopes to bounce back through May. Two issues that Buchholz will have to face are Justin Morneua who is batting .500 off of Buchholz who is 3-0 in his last 4 versus Minnesota and Trevor Plouffe who had a rough start but has gotten 2 home runs in his last 8 games raising his average to .238! Game 1 will be a possible history in the making for Clay Buchholz as he goes to beat Beckett's record of going 7-0 in his first 7 starts! First pitch is at 7:10 in Boston!
Prediction: 6-0 Red Sox
Game 2: Ryan Dempster (2-2) vs. Scott Diamond (2-2)
Game 1 has come to a close as the Sox win it in extras. Looking at my prediction it is clear to see Buchholz did not pitch what I expected to this Minnesota offense! For game 2 the Sox will be featuring AL new comer Ryan Dempster who came off a great outing in Toronto that gave him his second win on the season. Over six innings in Toronto he allowed 1 run and used his strikeout pitch very effectively. So effectively that he has struckout just under 12 batters per nine innings pitched. Dempster has also had a bit of trouble with homers, but nothing overly extreme at 1.3 per nine. To face him on the mound will be Scott Diamond who is also coming off a solid outing versus the Tigers. Diamond was effective against the Tigers on Wednesday, allowing two runs on just four hits and one walk over six innings. After a rough first outing in his return from minor elbow surgery, Diamond has thrown three straight quality starts. In his last 31 starts and 195 innings in the Twins rotation, dating back to the start of 2012, Diamond has issued a free pass just 1.6 times per nine innings. For Dempter to come out strong in this game he will need to keep the ball around the zone as Twins hitters do not swing at just anything! The Sox will also need to bring back their power offense they showed against the Astros and Jays that was rattled against the Rangers. Getting off to a first inning lead has been the best thing for this team and will be the key to more victories! Go Sox!
Prediction: 5-3 Red Sox
Game 3: Allen Webster (0-0) vs. Pedro Hernandez (1-0)
As Felix Doubront has been struggling over his past few starts the Sox have decided to give the ball to Allen Webster. Webster has pitched one start so far this year and it was a no decision for him. He pitched 6 solid innings with 5 hits and 3 runs allowed. The only struggle to Webster's start was hit homerun pitch which he allowed twice in his game. "He throws hard," Red Sox catcher David Ross said afterward. "So that's always fun." Webster came to Boston through the blockbuster trade and tonight we will learn if that was the best option for the Sox to bring in. In 20 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket, Webster struck out 26 batters while walking six and posting a 2.70 ERA. After this series Farrell has said Doubront will most likely get the spot back but this game could change that possibly. Doubront and Webster are both a key part to the Sox future over the next couple years. To face Webster on the mound will be Twin's pitcher Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez has made three starts and two relief appearances for the Twins, amassing a 3.92 ERA. He has not been the best in his three starts with Minnesota this season, walking and striking out eight batters each in 15 innings of work. As Hanrahan and Bailey both have injuries the closer spot has been given to the bullpen to work out. In the fifrth inning of Tuesday's game Middlebrooks and Ross ran for a foul ball both sliding and colliding which will make the questionable for tonight's game. Last note is that Ortiz was one of the four Sox hits last night which now makes him hunting for 28 straight games with a hit!
Prediciton: 5-3 Twins
Game 4: Kevin Correia (3-2) vs. John Lackey (1-2)
Wow have we seen a lot of offense so far this series! My predictions have not even been close! Hopefully game 4 will see a flip and make it a real baseball game for at least once this series! The Sox will send John Lackey to the mound who was injured in his first start versus the Jays but came back to win a game then in his last start versus the Rangers, Lackey had his worst start but considering it was against the Rangers offense 3 runs over 5 innings is nothing to put yourself down for. Lackey has been quite successful keeping the ball in the strike zone and keeping the pitch count low. Only Morneau and Mauer have seen Lackey and Mauer with the only success off of him as he is .444 against him while Morneau is .111. In this series finale the Twin will send Kevin Correia to the mound who is 3-2 to start the season. Correia started the season solid but in his last outing versus the Indians he was taken out in the fifth after surrendering 4 runs. Kevin is very low on strikeouts through his 6 starts as he has only set down 19 swinging. Many saw this Correia will not last as he will never be as good as he was in 2007 with the Giants. In Wednesday's game David Ortiz had a rough night going 0-5 which ends his hitting streak short of 30 games so possibly expect to see him take a days rest soon or even in Thursday's finale! The Sox will need Lackey to go deep as the bullpen was worked hard Wednesday in the high scoring affair.
Prediction: 7-5 Red Sox