Monday, June 2, 2008

Sox go for Sweep on Road

It's hard to believe the Red Sox were in a full-fledged funk when they arrived in town to meet the host Orioles just a few short days ago. But it's true. The Sox had lost five out of six on the West Coast and had a road slump that stretched back even further.
Suddenly, the Sox seemed cured. A win over Baltimore on Monday night would not only give Boston a four-game sweep to conclude the road trip, but also a 5-5 mark on the lengthy trek to the West Coast and back.
"It's a great opportunity, any chance you get to sweep a team," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "It's tough to sweep a two-game series. We've got to come out tomorrow and play good ball. We're facing a guy [Jeremy Guthrie] that's tough. He has great stuff. We'll come out and play as hard as we can."
One thing that will help their cause is to keep swinging the way they did Sunday. In that 9-4 victory, the Red Sox tied a season high with 16 hits.
"We're going to click," said left fielder Manny Ramirez. "Sometimes we'll be cold. That's part of the game."
The Red Sox will have manager Terry Francona back in the dugout on Monday. Francona gave way to bench coach Brad Mills in Sunday's win so that he could attend his daughter's high school graduation.
However, the return of Francona will coincide with the departure of star slugger David Ortiz, who will be back in Boston on Monday undergoing an MRI on his strained left wrist.
Ortiz and the Red Sox are hopeful it's not a serious injury.
Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will close out this road trip for Boston. In fact, this is Wakefield's third start of the trip. He lost the first two, though the latter outing certainly wasn't his fault. In that one, Wakefield pitched a complete game and lost, 1-0, to Erik Bedard.
Pitching matchupBOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (3-4, 4.70 ERA)With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue, Wakefield will be moved up one day to pitch the finale of this four-game series against the Orioles. Thanks to Thursday's day off, Wakefield is on regular rest. Wakefield has pitched well at Camden Yards over the years, going 7-5 with a 3.58 ERA in 22 appearances.
BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (2-6, 3.64 ERA)Guthrie lost another close game in his last outing and is currently mired in a string of hard luck. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs or less in nine of his 12 starts, but Baltimore has scored a total of eight runs in his six losses. Nine of Guthrie's 12 starts have been decided by two runs or less, but he's 2-4 with three no-decisions in those games.
Short hopsThe Red Sox have hit back-to-back homers five times this season. ... Clearly, the Red Sox like playing at Camden Yards. Not only do their fans pack the seats, but the Sox have won 19 of their last 26 games in Baltimore. ... The Red Sox are 14-19 on the road. ... Kevin Cash, who will make the start behind the plate with Wakefield pitching, is hitting .302 in 53 at-bats.

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