The Red Sox (34-27) would be wise to take care of business this week against the lowly Philadelphia Phillies (21-39). In fact, the Sox absolutely should win all four games – the first two at Fenway on Monday and Tuesday, the second two in Philly on Wednesday and Thursday - against their “traditional” National League “rival.”
Not only is it crucial for the Sox to keep pace with the first place Yankees, who the Sox lost two of three from on the road last week, but it will be important for Boston to be playing good baseball heading into their showdown with the American League leading Houston Astros this coming weekend in Texas. The Astros are a remarkable 44-19 this season and many are wondering whether or not they’re the best MLB team in a generation. Considering no other team in the AL has 40 wins yet (the Yankees are second best with 36), everyone has to admit that what the Astros are currently doing is otherworldly.
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It’s not exactly an Astros-like pace, but the Red Sox are currently hot too. The Sox are 13-6 in their last 19 games and their .684 win percentage since May 21 is tied for third in MLB, according to RedSox.com.
All top baseball teams need a good balance of strong pitching and hitting, and the Sox have gotten both recently for the most part. Excluding back-to-back embarrassing offensive efforts against the Yankees last week (the Sox lost 8-0 in the Bronx last Wednesday and 9-1 on Thursday), the Red Sox have averaged an impressive 5.7 runs per game since the start of June. The aforementioned Astros are the best offensive team in baseball and are averaging 5.4 runs per game this season to give you an idea of how well the Sox are doing at the plate lately.
Rick Porcello (3-8, 4.46 ERA) will get the ball for the Red Sox on Monday (7:05 p.m., NESN) against the Phillies at Fenway. Porcello is coming off a relatively ugly outing last week against the Yankees in which he surrendered five earned runs on eight hits (including two home runs).
Jerad Eickhoff (0-7, 5.15) is slated to get the start for Philly on Monday.
David Price will pitch in front of the Fenway faithful on Tuesday (7 p.m., NESN). Price was rocked by the Yankees as well last week, giving up six earned runs to the Bombers.
It will be the first time Price will have pitched since he went into an expletive-laced tirade against several members of the Boston sports media last week.