The Red Sox will head to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates in the first of three straight series in National League parks.
Coming off their first series loss of the month, the Red Sox have two major questions to answer as they start this newest road trip. The first is what to do with their rotation. Clay Buchholz is on the disabled list, John Lackey has been terrible all year long, and Alfredo Aceves hasn't inspired confidence in his ability to start of late. Meanwhile, Josh Beckett is riding out an illness that has forced two late scratches.
They may have found some help in Andrew Miller, whose first start was successful if unspectacular, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough, or if the Sox will have to turn to some of their other options stashed away in Pawtucket.
If they can get Beckett to go sometime in the next five days, however, that's a problem that can be put off for later. More pressing is the situation with Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. Both among the best hitters in the game, both limited to first base defensively (and Ortiz barely that). Of course, in the American League, this isn't a problem thanks to the DH, but in the NL, someone has to either sit, or move.
Terry Francona has toyed with the idea of moving Adrian Gonzalez to right field for a few games to keep both bats hot over the nine-game period. The Sox have received next to no contributions from their various corner outfielders except for recent call-up Josh Reddick, but Adrian Gonzalez is one of the slowest players in the league, and has only ever played one game in the outfield.
Normally the Pirates would be a perfect team to feel these sorts of things out against, but amazingly enough they actually sit at .500 through 74 games, which is more than could be said for the Padres. This is a series the Red Sox should win, but not one they can assume a win in.
Boston Red Sox (44-30) at Pittsburgh Pirates (37-37)
Friday, June 24, 7:05 p.m.
Jon Lester (9-3, 3.70 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (3-8, 3.29 ERA(
Saturday, June 25, 7:05 p.m.
Tim Wakefield (4-2, 4.26 ERA) vs. Jeff Karstens (4-4, 2.54 ERA)
Sunday, June 26, 1:35 p.m.
Andrew MIller (0-0, 4.76 ERA) vs. James McDonald (5-4, 4.86 ERA)