It's been a tough few series for the Red Sox. After taking the first five sets of June, the Sox dropped the last three--each of them one game to two--to finish the month with a 16-9 record. Certainly a good 30 days, but not enough to keep them ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.
Their time in the National League has been quite a headache so far. Between pitchers hitting and Terry Francona's constant struggles with the lineup and who to sit, the Sox will be happy to leave this road trip in their rear-view mirror.
First, though, they'd like to take some games off the league-worst Astros.
At 29-53, the Astros don't have much to hang their hat on. They've given up more than any team in either league, and their middling offense isn't nearly enough to make up for it.
Interestingly, the Astros aren't without strong starters. Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris (who the Sox will see in the first game) have both been quite impressive, and Brett Myers has been passable. The problem is that they've got no real answer for the fourth and fifth spots--J.A. Happ and the various other offerings have been fairly bad--and they've gotten no help whatsoever from one of the game's worst defenses.
But even when they've got Norris or Rodriguez on the mound, the second they exit the game, they have to rely on a terrible bullpen to hold it.
If there's any team that will get the Sox' offense going full-force again, the Astros might be it.
Boston Red Sox (46-34) At Houston Astros (29-53)
Friday, July 1, 8:05 p.m.
Tim Wakefield (4-3, 4.54 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (4-6, 3.36 ERA)
Sunday, July 3, 2:05 p.m.
Josh Beckett (6-3, 2.20 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (0-3, 4.75 ERA)