Red Sox Series Preview: Vs. Minnesota Twins

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May 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Phil Hughes (45) throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching Matchups @ Twins (Target Field)

May 25th @ 2:10 PM ET;

  • Joe Kelly (1-3, 5.13 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-1, 6.00 ERA)
  • After four games where he gave up at least five runs apiece, Kelly has had two solid starts that combined for allowing only three runs. Yet, he had a no-decision and a loss in that stretch. If the offense doesn’t pick up, it won’t matter if Kelly has turned the corner on his season.
  • The righty Nolasco has only one start where he allowed less than three runs, when he blanked the Detroit Tigers, a high-octane team, in Michigan. His last outing, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, was less successful, allowing 10 hits and three earned runs in 5.2 innings. In that two-game span, Nolasco struck out a combined 15 batters, showing that, whether he bleeds runs or not, he can impose his will on starting lineups. If the Red Sox can get their bats on the ball, though, it should be an early night for Nolasco.

May 26th @ 8:10 PM ET;

  • Clay Buchholz (2-5, 4.58 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (3-1, 3.00 ERA)
  • In his last three starts, Buchholz is 1-1, allowing a combined six runs. Each game saw the Red Sox in the fray, but the team’s offense came up short of helping their starting pitcher to victory. All three games saw Buchholz go deep into the frames, playing a combined 21.2 out of a possible 27 innings. That’s the kind of performance that people expected from him; now, it’s time for the bats to do their job to support him.
  • Pelfrey, a right-hander, is much stronger at home (2.35 ERA) than away (3.34 ERA). Other than the pounding that he took in Detroit, allowing four runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings, Pelfrey has been consistent. He has never given up more than two runs in the other six of the last seven games, including blanking the AL Central leaders, the Royals. Not a big strikeout total per game, but Pelfrey’s hit total is also down. Look for balls to be in play for the Red Sox, and let’s see if the defense holds them or not.

May 27th @ 1:10 PM ET;

  • Rick Porcello (4-3, 5.07 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.50 ERA)
  • What should we say? Porcello was dominating in his last four starts, earning three out of four wins, before his last game against the L.A. Angels. In this last start, Porcello allowed seven earned runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work. Granted, the defense could have been better, that night; however, Porcello could have recovered and not let it get to him. Your guess is as good as anybody’s which Porcello we will see, tonight.
  • Hughes is no stranger to the Red Sox, with most of his career spent playing with the New York Yankees. No real home-field advantage for Hughes, as the righty has a 5.11 ERA at Target Field, this season. However, Hughes has had back-to-back strong starts, recently, allowing only a combined four runs and pitched into the eighth innings. Again, not a strong strikeout total, as he has not relied on it to get the job done. Meanwhile, his hit totals verge on double digits in most of his appearances. Again, the defense will be key in this game.