So last night's game ended at, what, 1:30 AM?
And then I had to do the recap, minor lines, and my Friday article before taking the afternoon SBN Boston shift. Suffice to say, I'm a little burned out for the usual number crunching fun that a series preview entails, so let's go lite this week.
Interleague play finally comes to an end this weekend as the Red Sox take on the Giants in a pitching-heavy series that the Red Sox have to survive. With Tampa Bay taking on Arizona, the Red Sox really can't afford to be losing games and falling back into third place in the East after fighting all the way back.
While each team has two of their best and one of their worst starters on the mound, the games are not perfectly distributed, leading to a couple of mismatches. The Giants start out with the advantage as Jonathan Sanchez looks to continue the breakout that began with last year's no hitter facing off against the unpredictable Tim Wakefield. With the pen in bad shape after last night, look for Wake to go deep no matter how well or poorly he's pitching—this is, after all, the matchup the Red Sox can most afford to lose.
In the second game, it will be advantage Red Sox, as the first of our no-hitter pair takes on Joe Martinez. Martinez is just pitching his second start of the season, and really hasn't shown much in the majors. Lots of balls in play to the Red Sox lineup is not a good combination, even if he does tend to keep the ball on the ground with a plus infield around him. He's not likely to keep things scoreless, and if Clay is on, it shouldn't take many runs.
Finally there's the battle of the aces in Lester vs. Lincecum. No explanation needs to be given for either pitcher—this'll just come down to who's having a better night, and if the series goes the way the Sox hope it will, who has a tougher challenge.
After all, as strong as the Giants are on the mound and in the field, they've not been known for prolific lineups of late. While they have found some production recently from castoffs like Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, with Pablo Sandoval not carrying his weight, most of the stronger parts of their offense is entirely questionable, relying on career years and high BABIPs. How it stands up against a good run prevention team remains to be seen.
Of course, the Sox are only a good run prevention team so long as their better pitchers are in. So much of the season might just come down to efficiency. With the bullpen looking as weak as ever—perhaps even worse given Papelbon's regression to his peripherals—the Sox can't afford short starts. If Lester and Clay can go seven, and the offense doesn't completely go quiet, the Sox should stand a good chance of avoiding a series losing streak.