(Sports Network) - In the first matchup of the 'Theo Epstein' series it was
the Cubs who took the win behind a strong outing from Ryan Dempster and a poor
offensive showing from the Boston Red Sox.
Now the Sox will try to bounce back from a tough day at the plate, while the
Cubs are attempt to get back-to-back wins for the second time this month and
only the sixth time this season.
In Friday's matinee at Wrigley Field. the Cubs pulled out a 3-0 win as
Dempster continued to push his trade stock up. Dempster pitched seven
scoreless innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 22, scattering
four hits and two walks while striking out three batters.
Dempster is now 3-3 this season but with an ERA of 2.11 he is a pitcher many
contending teams will be calling about come the trade deadline. On top of the
strong pitching performance Dempster also went 2-for-2 at the plate with a
triple and a run scored.
In making his second start for the Red Sox this season Daisuke Matsuzaka got
off to a shaky start but put forth a solid effort. Matsuzaka walked the bases
loaded in the first inning and gave up three runs in the first two frames, He
settled down from there going six strong while striking out three.
The Red Sox had a chance to win in the ninth inning when Cubs closer Carlos
Marmol loaded the bases but Dustin Pedroia grounded out to third base to end
Tonight, converted reliever Jeff Samardzija will get the start for the Cubs.
The 27-year-old will need the short memory of a reliever after his last outing
where he lasted just 3 2/3 innings and gave up a season-high eight runs with
just one strikeout, a season-low, in an 11-3 loss to Minnesota. Samardzija's
career numbers are not exactly stellar in June where he is now 2-4 with a 6.12
ERA in his career.
Despite that disastrous start Samardzija's move to the starting rotation has
been a success so far this season for the Cubs. The right-hander leads the
Cubs in wins with a 5-4 record and is second among Chicago starters with a
3.96 ERA. Samardzija also leads the Cubs rotation with 72 strikeouts over 72
2/3 innings pitched.
Samardzija pitched in a single inning against the Red Sox a season ago and
gave up five runs (three earned) in the appearance. Samardzija really hasn't
been able to figure out the American League in his career with a 8.83 ERA and
no wins in eight career outings in interleague play.
Although the offense has not been what was expected from the Red Sox this
season, Boston's biggest issue has been it's starting pitching.
If the Red Sox are ever going to get back into the AL East race they need Jon
Lester to return to form. Lester who has four straight seasons with at least
15 wins and an ERA under 3.50 is having his worst professional season and is
3-4 with an ERA of 4.57.
Lester's struggles are coming because of his inability to keep opposing
batters off base. His 1.36 WHIP is the highest since 2007 while his hits per
nine inning rate of 9.5 is the highest since his rookie season.
Lester is also not getting opposing batters to swing and miss as effectively
with just a 6.0 strikeout per nine inning rate which is his lowest mark over
the last four seasons.
The 28-year-old had a strong outing his last time out, lasting seven innings
while allowing three runs on six hits and striking out nine, but still took a
loss to the Washington Nationals.
Despite the loss there was a number of positives to take out of the start as
it was the deepest into a game Lester had gone in five starts and the most
strikeouts he has had in a game this season.
The Cubs are off to a better start in this years series with Boston after they
lost two of three matchups with the Red Sox a year ago. This is the first time
Chicago has hosted Boston since winning two of three meetings back in 2005.
The Sports Network