Boston Red Sox (66-49) PK, 9 at Chicago White Sox (63-50), 8 pm Eastern Friday
by Zman of Predictem.com
The leaders of the American League’s Central Division meet the pace-setters in the AL wild-card race as the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox begin a four-game series Friday night at US Cellular Field.
Baseball bookmakers are listing this game, which features a lefty match-up of Mark Buehrle (8-10, 4.07, 1.34 WHIP) for Chicago vs. Jon Lester (10-3, 3.14, 1.31) for Boston, at right around a pick ’em, with a total of 9.
Boston just took two of three games from the Royals in Kansas City, and has won five of its last six games, allowing a total of 13 runs over that span. Meanwhile, the White Sox fell at home to Detroit Thursday 8-3, but still took two of three from the Tigers in the series.
So going into this weekend’s action, Boston is in 2nd place in the AL East, 2 1/2 games back of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays, while Chicago clings to a half-game lead in the AL Central over the second-place Minnesota Twins.
The Red Sox also lead the AL wild-card race by 2 1/2 games over Minnesota.
Boston is 17 games over .500 overall this season, but only 26-33 on the road. The Sox are also 56-59 vs. the run line.
Chicago, meanwhile, is 37-17 at home this season, and 64-49 vs. the run line.
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Somewhat strangely, this is the first meeting so far this season between these two teams. Last year, the Red Sox took the season series from the White Sox seven games to one, outscoring Chicago by a whopping 77-21 margin. The totals went 7-1 in those eight games, which averaged 12.3 total runs per.
Over his last three starts, including a winning performance vs. Oakland six days ago, Lester has allowed just four ER and 26 baserunners (hits + walks) in 21 1/3 IP. Boston is 16-7 in Lester’s starts this year, the totals 9-12.
Lester has not started a game vs. the White Sox since 2006.
Over his last three starts, including a very rough outing vs. KC last Saturday, Buehrle has given up 13 ER and 29 BR in 16 2/3 IP. Chicago is 10-13 in Buehrle’s starts this year, the totals 11-12.
Buehrle has started one game over the last two seasons vs. the Red Sox, allowing four ER and seven BR in six innings of a 14-2 Chicago loss last August.
Offensively, Boston ranks 3rd in the majors this season in team BA at .279 , 2nd in team OBP at .355, 6th in team slugging at .441, and is averaging 5.0 runs per game.
Chicago ranks 10th in batting at .266, 10th in OBP at .337, 2nd in slugging at .448, and is also averaging 5.0 RPG.
Over the last five games, the Boston bullpen has been great, holding opponents scoreless on 10 BR in 12 1/3 IP.
Over its’ last five games, the Chicago pen has given up 12 ER and 32 BR in 21 2/3 IP.
On the injury/personnel front, Boston 1B Keith Youkilis is listed as probable/questionable for Friday’s game with a hand injury. Meanwhile, Red Sox OF Jason Bay is 11 for 26 with a homer and six RBI since replacing Manny Ramirez in the Boston line-up.
The totals are 52-55 in Red Sox games this year, 55-56 in White Sox games, and 29-24 in games played at US Cellular Field, which are averaging 9.9 total runs this season.
Zman’s Pick: I look for a low scoring pitching duel to occur tonight. Take the UNDER 9 runs. Good luck!