On Friday, some may argue that the Subway Series deserves all the headlines. Don’t mention that to the die-hard fans of these two clubs.
Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies
Boston picked up a quick two-game home sweep against the Minnesota Twins and now head off for a three-game series against Philadelphia. The Red Sox finished with a losing 2-3 record on their last road trip against the Tigers and Yankees. The team pushed its record against left-handed starters to 10-5 (+420) on the year with Thursday night’s victory and will get ready to face another tonight. Playing the two-time defending NL Champions is certainly no picnic, but the Red Sox have destroyed the NL East in their last 51 matchups, going 38-13. Phillies’ fans will be holding their breath during Interleague play, as the team is just 30-51 against the AL since Charlie Manuel took over the controls in 2005.
Philadelphia received a quality start from RHP Joe Blanton in leading the Phillies to a 5-4 home win over the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a short two-game series. The starting staff has been instrumental in leading the club to a 13-5 (+457) mark this month, posting a 12-5 record with a 3.05 ERA in 18 games. The Phillies are 20-8 in games against right-handed starts this season, which leads all NL teams. 2B Chase Utley has been leading the offensive charge at home, where he’s hit eight home runs in 18 games at Citizens Bank Park, while managing just two in 20 road games.
Red Sox SP John Lackey looks to turn things around, after allowing 11 earned runs and 17 hits over his last two starts (11IP). The former Angels’ ace has definitely enjoyed pitching under the lights rather than during the day, posting a perfect 3-0 record and 3.27 ERA in three night starts (1-2, 7.94 ERA – Day). The right-hander will be making just his second career start against the two-time defending NL champs, as he led the Angels to a 2-1 home victory over the Phillies back on 6/10/03. Lackey has shined during interleague play in his career with a 12-4 record and 2.63 ERA over 25 outings (24 starts). He has gone at least seven innings in each of his last seven starts. Also, he has taken the loss in just one of his last 11 interleague starts. The Red Sox are 1-2 (-200) in his three road starts this season.
Phillies SP Cole Hamels has led the Phillies to three wins in his starts during May, posting a 2-0 record and 2.75 ERA. The left-hander is a dominating 12-2 with a 4.06 ERA in 22 career starts in May, striking out 145 batters in 142 innings. Control has been an issue recently, issuing 13 free passes in his last 25.2 innings of work. He led Philadelphia to an 8-2 win in his only career start against Boston on 6/16/08, going seven innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. In that particular game, he surrendered back-to-back home runs to 2B Dustin Pedroia and OF J.D. Drew, as the only runs he allowed.
Both teams come in with an over .500 record in the month of May, which makes this an even more intriguing series. As stated above, Hamels has dominated during his career in the month of May, but he runs into a potential road block with the Phillies being 0-4 in his last four starts against the AL East.
The value has to lie with the road team in this contest. Boston has won four out of the last six meetings against Philadelphia (+224) over the past two seasons. This particular game also marks the best opportunity to possibly play Lackey as an underdog, considering he’s been favored in all eight starts thus far (-190).