After a disappointing April, the Red Sox will attempt to start May off on the right foot with a four-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels.
When last they met, the Angels and Red Sox were both on fire. While only the Red Sox would leave with their hot streak in tact, in the week that has passed since, the teams have been going in opposite directions, with the Sox losing two-of-three to both the Orioles and Mariners while the Angels have won back-to-back series against the Athletics and Rays.
If the Red Sox want to get back on track, they will once again have to slow down a strong Angels team, and this time, they'll have to do so with a rotation in some disarray.
Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels
Monday, May 2, 7:10 p.m.
Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.33 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (6-0, 0.99 ERA)
This matchup is something of a surprise, given that both pitchers had their starts pushed back from Sunday due to illness. It's also a difficult one, given the numbers above.
Buchholz' outings of late have been more tolerable than his first couple to start the season, but Red Sox fans have still yet to see anything resembling the ace of 2010. Struggling primarily with fastball command, Buchholz has been a walk factory when not giving up four home runs to the Angels.
Jared Weaver, on the other hand, is off to a fantastic start, and has yet to have even a bad start on the year. He has had some trouble against the Red Sox in years past, however, specifically in Fenway Park, where he holds a career 7.76 ERA.
Tuesday, May 3, 7:10 p.m.
Jon Lester (3-1, 2.52 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (4-1, 1.23 ERA)
A rematch of the closest game in the last series, Dan Haren will be looking for a little more help from his defense this time. Back in April, errors from Ron Bourjos and Vernon Wells allowed two unearned runs to come in against Dan Haren-the difference between a 4-3 Red Sox win, and a hypothetical 3-2 victory for Los Angeles.
Jon Lester certainly won that night's pitching duel with eight strikeouts in six innings of shutout baseball, but given the mess created by the bullpen that the Red Sox just barely escaped, he might be looking to go a bit longer this time.
Wednesday, May 4, 7:10 p.m.
Josh Beckett (2-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (1-3, 4.89 ERA)
With Beckett's mediocre start against Baltimore raising some red flags, manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein both sat in on Beckett's bullpen session. The fear was that Beckett's 125 pitches last time 'round against the Angels may have done some damage beyond simply fatiguing him, but everything seems to have checked out, and Beckett has been given the go-ahead to pitch Wednesday on a full seven days of rest. Traditionally, that's been a good thing for Beckett, who has a career 3.20 ERA when getting that many days off.
Ervin Santana, on the other hand, is coming off of his second best game in what has been a disappointing start to the season. His six innings against the Rays, allowing only one earned run (three unearned) left him in line for his first win of the season. Whether he'll be able to get his second against a lefty-heavy team like the Red Sox remains to be seen.
Thursday, May 5, 1:35 p.m.
John Lackey (2-3, 5.65 ERA) vs. Joel Pineiro (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
John Lackey's performance against the Mariners, while still a solid job, wasn't quite as impressive as his game against the Oakland Athletics. And it didn't even compare, really, to what he did to the Angels on April 24, spinning eight innings of shutout ball in Los Angeles. Now he'll have to see if he can keep it up on a field that hasn't treated him nearly as well as his previous home.
Joel Pineiro made his first start of the year against the Rays, and while he didn't get the win, it certainly wasn't a bad comeback after a shoulder injury kept him off the mound for the first month of the season. While Pineiro has found success in recent years, the Red Sox have never had that much trouble with him, and the confines of Fenway Park haven't been the most comfortable place for him to pitch either.