Finally, after a week of road games, the Boston Red Sox come home to their beloved fans.
The home-opening series is set against the Washington Nationals. Just like in the first series of this season, the Red Sox will start their Fenway campaign against a National League opponent, only this time the American League rules will apply, meaning David Ortiz will forego the first baseman’s glove for strictly his bat.
Considering their record (4-2), the Red Sox would normally be happy with their start to the year, especially since it was a six-game road trip, but last night’s debacle against the New York Yankees will be one game they will want to put behind themselves, quickly.
Series Schedule vs. Nationals @ Fenway Park:
April 13th @ 3:05 PM ET;
April 14th @ 6:10 PM ET;
April 15th @ 1:35 PM ET;
Most of the critics were fairly much quieted with last week’s pitching display by the Red Sox’ starting rotation. Porcello, however, lost his first game, last week, against the Philadelphia Phillies, giving up three runs on six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts in six innings of work. With signing the big four-year, $82.5 million contract extension on Opening Day, Porcello will want to bounce back, proving his worth in front of Red Sox Nation for his Boston debut.
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The Nationals (2-4) were expected to have the best pitching staff in the majors, but will be wanting to have a bounce back of their own. One of their position players may be coming back to help with the effort. Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported that “Jayson Werth (offseason shoulder surgery) is expected to come off the disabled list and start in left field for the Nationals on Monday. He most likely will hit second in the lineup. Werth brings a high on-base percentage and is not afraid to steal a base.” However, with any injury, nobody knows for sure whether Werth can show his true worth, today, until he steps into the batter’s box, with thousands of screaming Red Sox faithful desiring him to putter out.
Nationals Players To Watch:
- Werth has hit over 80 RBIs in the previous two seasons. If he has already regained some of that form, he should be dangerous if the Nationals have men on base.
- Strasburg’s loss will make him more hungry to dish out fastballs to the Red Sox. According to FanGraphs.com, he throws his best pitch almost 70% of the time, with a speed of just over 94 mph. Considering how many Red Sox players like to hit fastballs, this strategy may be the key factor in the middle of the series. Especially since Strasburg’s velocity has dipped from 97.6 mph in 2010.
Apr 10, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Red Sox Players To Watch:
- Hanley Ramirez has been a big part of the offence, recently. Ramirez has three home runs and seven RBIs, already. He is also red-hot at the plate, hitting .320, while only striking out twice in 25 at-bats. Considering Ramirez came from the Los Angelos Dodgers, last season, his experience, along with Pablo Sandoval‘s time with the San Francisco Giants, against the Nationals will be invaluable for the Red Sox.
- Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has also been lighting up pitchers with big hits, even if they don’t travel as far as Ramirez. Bogaerts is hitting .407, with six RBIs in 27 at-bats. Since, in his first full season, last year, he hit .240 with 46 RBIs, Bogaerts will want to continue his current trend to stay with the big club, as reported yesterday by this platform. This big improvement has been needed, if not once expected of the young man from Aruba.
- Ortiz has been struggling of late. The Red Sox will want to take advantage of the AL rules for their lineup, but the face of the franchise is only hitting .130, with an RBI and nine strikeouts in 23 at-bats. The season is still early, and Red Sox Nation has seen this display before, so if anyone was to break this slump it would be Ortiz. Big Papi didn’t get his name from eating too many Wahlburgers.
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