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Red Sox Hope to Break Bad Team Blues Against Diamondbacks

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This is a cool photo.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
This is a cool photo. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Oh boy, another cellar dweller. Couldn't we be facing someone like the Braves? We tend to do better in those games.

 

The Red Sox start off a three game series against the 26-38 Diamondbacks tonight, in what has the chance to be the most ignored game of the year given what else is going on tonight. Still, the show must go on regardless of what other Boston teams are doing, so why not make it count with the first sweep since the Rays? It might sound outlandish given the fact that the Sox don't like beating bad teams, but let's take a look at why, once again, things should be aligned nicely for a shot at a sweep.

 

1) The Road

 

The Diamondbacks are 17-16 on the road. Do the math, and you'll see that the main reason they're barely breaking .400 is a 9-22 road record--second only to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL for awfulness. For whatever reason, the Diamondbacks just can't play outside of Chase Field, and hopefully the confines of Fenway prove no different.

 

2) The Starters

 

The Diamondbacks have allowed the most runs (370) of any team in the majors despite facing the weaker lineups found in the NL, and are better than only the Orioles (and then by only .01) by FIP. The Red Sox will face Ian Kennedy, Rodrigo Lopez, and Dan Haren. While Kennedy has the lowest ERA of the group, he has been very lucky with an 83.1% strand rate, .244 BABIP and a 4.80 FIP. Rodrigo Lopez looks just as bad by his peripherals, but hasn't had the luck of his teammate with a 4.45 ERA. The big gun in the rotation is Dan Haren, who has had a difficult and unlucky year so far plagued by high home run rates. For a guy who hasn't kept the ball in the park, though, coming into Fenway might not exactly be what the doctor ordered, changing some outs into homers and some homers into doubles is not exactly a recipe for success.

 

The Red Sox will counter with their top two in Buchholz and Lester before giving Lackey a go against Haren. Generally speaking, the first two matchups are about as good as you can expect, with the third being, again, the Sox' shot to roll the dice for a good Lackey start.

 

3) A Pen to Match Our Own

 

Of course, even should the Sox escape the sixth inning with a lead, there will always be the phantom specter of the pen waiting to give up a few runs—and the game—in the late innings. The good news is that, for once, we actually are up against a team that's even more likely than us to give it all right back. The Diamondbacks have the single worst pen in the game. By FIP, by xFIP, and most certainly by their massive ERA of 7.33. It seems like nobody has both the ERA and the peripherals to back it up. Chad Qualls' 3.56 xFIP leads the relief corps while Aaron Heilman is the only one who has actually kept runs off the board. But no matter how you look at it, there's just no way that Arizona can feel confident about even a medium-sized late-inning lead. This is a pen that is built to blow saves—hopefully the Red Sox can take advantage should they need to.

 

4) We're Due

 

Come on now. We've split series against the Indians and Royals, and let sweeps slip through our fingers against the Phillies, Athletics, and Orioles. I'm sure everyone else is just as tired as me at never once getting that satisfying series sweep. The Yankees are playing the Phillies, the Rays are playing the Braves, and the Sox are just four games back. Time to close the gap and start knocking on doors.