The Red Sox are out to make it three straight series wins as they take on the Miami Marlins in Fenway Park, but to do so they'll have to do something they've not done very often this year: win at home.
At 14-19, Boston's record in Fenway Park is not what you'd expect from a team that has done so well on the road. While they're hitting better at home then away, that's about what you'd expect from any team playing in Fenway, so the fact that they're not particularly standing out is perhaps cause for concern.
The real issue, however, has been the pitching--in particular that of Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront, two of the men set to take the mound in this three game sereis.
Boston Red Sox (33-33) vs. Miami Marlins (33-33)
Tuesday, June 19, 7:10 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (7-2, 5.38 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (5-7, 3.41 ERA)
The good news for the Red Sox is that Clay Buchholz' bad home numbers are all from before his recent turnaround. Now, after four terrific starts in a row--two coming at home--the Sox have gotten to the point where they can depend on Buchholz to put up strong starts that should be worthy of a win given any reasonable level of support. It doesn't hurt that he provided them just that against these same Marlins in his last outing, and the team emerged victorious even though they weren't able to provide him decent results against none other than Mark Buehrle, who held the Sox to just two runs over seven innings. It's going to be tough for Buehrle, who has to be wondering if he actually needs to do better in the cozy confines of Fenway just to have a shot.
Wednesday, June 20, 7:10 p.m. EST
Ricky Nolasco (6-5, 4.37 ERA) vs. Felix Doubront (7-3, 4.17 ERA)
Felix Doubront also has a nice start against the Marlins in his pocket, but he's got some greater worries when it comes to pitching at Fenway. With two good starts and two bad ones in the cozy confines, Doubront's overall home ERA of 5.52 is not terribly impressive. This is made all the worse by the fact that he's suffered from a rash of home runs, allowing seven in his last five outings. Hopefully all the strikeouts--he managed to pile up nine in his start against the Marlins--will be enough to keep the fly balls to a minimum.
Ricky Nolasco was decent in his last start against the Red Sox, but could only hold them off for so long before they completely woke up from their slumber (induced by a run of five front-line starters that at no point involved Ricky Nolasco) against the Florida bullpen. Unfortunately for Nolasco, he's been suffering from a bit of a home run problem of late, and that's not likely to get better shifting from Florida to Boston.
Thursday, June 21, 7:10 p.m. EST
NESN/MLB Network, WEEI
Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 5.73 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (4-5, 3.92 ERA)
Daisuke was his old self for the first couple innings of his last game, walking just about every Cub who came to the plate before waking up a bit to actually earn a quality start for his efforts. We've seen two different Daisukes in two starts so far, but unfortunately neither one has been terribly effective. Sox fans can only hope for more, however, since he seems like he'll be in the rotation for a while longer yet.
Carlos Zambrano has been revived some by the move to Miami, but the warm weather boost may be wearing off, as he's been entirely hittable in recent months. He's proven especially ineffective against the Tampa Bay Rays, who he's faced in each of his last two starts, allowing 11 runs without escaping the third either time. While the Sox may be trailing said Rays by four games in the American League East right now, they have far-and-away the better lineup, so hopefully that means more interleague trouble for Zambrano.