Having taken care of business through the first 9 days of June, the Boston Red Sox, owners of the best record in the American League, will look to continue their success on the road as they open a seven game road swing against a pair of A.L. East division rivals.
The Red Sox slugged their way to a 10-5 win over the L.A. Angels Sunday, riding a pair of home runs by Jarrod Saltalamachia, Mike Carp’s third home run in five games, and another three run bomb from David Ortiz to back a quality start by Ryan Dempster. The win enabled Boston to complete its third straight series win in June and maintain a two game lead over the Yankees in the tight A.L. East. Boston spotted the Angels a 9-5 win in Saturday’s day game of a day/night double header, before claiming the night cap behind Clay Buchholz’s ninth win of the season against no defeats by a score of 7-2. The series win over Los Angeles followed June series wins over the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees to give Boston a 6-3 record in June and moved the Red Sox to a season best 14 games above .500 at 39-25.
Other weekend highlights included Jose Iglesias and Dustin Pedroia extending their current hitting streaks to 13 games each. Pedroia has also reached base safely in 18 straight outings while Iglesias is making a case to remain in the majors by boosting his batting average to .446. Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the groove with the bat and on the base paths, stealing his league-leading 24th base in Boston’s 10-5 win over the struggling Angels.
Shane Victorino also returned from the DL this weekend and had a pair of hits before again tweaking a hamstring Saturday which put him back on the pine for Sunday’s outing. Dempster went 6 innings and benefitted from Boston’s offensive outburst to improve to 4-6 on the season.
Now comes a stiff June road test for the Red Sox if they want to maintain and build on their division lead. The Red Sox will be in Tampa beginning Monday for a three-game set against the Rays before moving on later in the week for a four game series at Camden Yards against the Orioles, both in hot pursuit of the front-running Red Sox.
Will Middlebrooks is expected to be activated this week following a rehab stint at Pawtucket, and given the play of Iglesias at third, short and even second base, it’s a strong likelihood that current utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco, out of minor league options, will be designated for assignment to make room for Middlebrooks.
A return to form of Middlebrooks gives Boston another middle of the order power bat if he can regain his stroke, but presents Farrell with a position player headache. What to do with the scorching hot Iglesias given the fact nobody is moving Pedroia out of the line up and the Sox are paying Stephen Drew $9-million to play shortstop.
In winning his 9th against no losses in Saturday’s nightcap, Buchholz apparently tweaked his neck when fielding and tagging on a play at first base, but the injury does not appear to be serious or long term.
Improving John Lackey gets the Monday start against Tampa looking to build on his last three outings and improve on his current log of 3-5. He’ll face a tough mound foe in the Ray’s Alex Cobb at 6-2. Tuesday’s pitching match up features lefty John Lester at 6-2 , looking to bounce back from two losses and two no decisions in his last four starts against Tampa’s Roberto Hernandez at 3-6. Pitching match ups for the series closer on Wednesday are tentative, with the Red Sox possibly sending Franklin Morales to the hill.
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- June: “So good, so good, so good,” so far for Red Sox (baseballtrashtalkin.org)