The Red Sox will travel to Minnesota with an eye to rebounding from their disastrous start now that they've arrived at a lighter part of the schedule.
As awful as 4-10 is, the Sox can at least take some heart in how rigorous their initial run was. Away against the Tigers, and Blue Jays, at home against the Rays, Rangers, and Yankees. Within the first three weeks of the season, the Red Sox have already faced the likely division winners of the American League West and Central, as well as their greatest competition for the East. When the Jays are the easiest opponent, it's been a tough run.
The Twins, on the other hand--well, there's just no excuse. 5-11 to start the season, the Twins are coming off a year which just barely saw them dodge 100 losses. While they're currently experiencing a rare spell of health, and enjoying a ridiculous start to the season from Josh Willingham, even with Joe Mauer reaching base and Justin Morneau hitting for power, they don't seem to have the talent to survive even an AL Central schedule.
Their rotation isn't particularly well off either, even when compared with the struggling top-3 of the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox (4-10) at Minnesota Twins (5-11)
Monday, April 23, 8:10 p.m. EST
Jon Lester (0-2, 5.82 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.20 ERA)
After two strong performances to start the year, Jon Lester proved no more capable of holding the lineup of the Rangers in check than any other starter has this year. Lacking his best stuff, Lester was picked apart by the tremendous Texas lineup for seven runs in just two innings, effectively undoing the good work of his first two outings.
Of course, when a bad day comes against the worst of opponents, that sort of thing can happen. Lester has not had the best time against the Twins in years past, but those were better days for Minnesota--days with division titles and playoff appearances, rather like the Red Sox used to have.
Jason Marquis is just about the definition of a back end of the rotation starter. Not particularly hard to hit, nor consistently able to put the onus on his defense, Marquis none-the-less gets just enough outs to get by. That was the case in his last time out when he surrendered seven hits, two walks, and four runs in five innings--not a strong outing, but enough to keep the Twins in it for a win.
Tuesday, April 24, 8:10 p.m. EST
Josh Beckett (1-2, 5.03 ERA) vs. Nick Blackburn (0-1, 5.56 ERA)
Josh Beckett got his bad start out of the way in the first game of the season, and actually managed to hold his own against the Rangers in his last appearance. Still, with the Red Sox' bullpen doing its usual thing and Derek Holland staying strong, Beckett was pegged with the loss after seven innings of three-run ball.
Hopefully, the Sox will not be held down quite so completely by Nick Blackburn, who is essentially Marquis taken to an extreme. He's a capable pitcher, just not the sort that should keep the Red Sox down, even lacking Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford
Wednesday, April 25, 8:10 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (1-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. Liam Hendriks (0-0, 3.86 ERA)
There is nothing to recommend the first starts of Clay Buchholz. Aside from a span of decent innings in his second outing, he has been completely terrible. Fastball all over the place when it's not over the plate and up, neither his curveball or changeup working with any regularity. Basic probability would seem to dictate that Buchholz would have been able to at least luck into a few more pitches. Will the Twins prove the cure? It's hard to imagine even the weakest lineup failing to score the way he's pitching right now.
Liam Hendriks is having a rather surprising start to his career after struggling through his first performance in Triple-A. Through two starts in the majors, he's managed to keep both the Rangers and Rays in check--an impressive beginning to any resumé. The Red Sox should provide another stiff test for the young starter.