Last time the Red Sox took on the Marlins, it was in Miami, without the benefit of the designated hitter. The Fish were over .500, whereas the Sox were under. Things are a little different a week later, with both teams sitting at 33-33; the Sox heading up after winning both the Miami and Cubs series, while the Marlins dropped both of theirs.
Both clubs have the chance to move back over .500 with a series win, but Boston will have a little more help than they did last time, as Cody Ross is expected to be activated on Tuesday for the first game of the series. Things should kick off well enough, if recent history is any indication, as Clay Buchholz is taking the mound in the first contest.
Game 1: Mark Buehrle (87 IP, 3.3 K/BB, 121 ERA+) vs. Clay Buchholz (80-1/3 IP, 1.7 K/BB, 77 ERA+)
Game 2: Ricky Nolasco (80-1/3 IP, 2.1 K/BB, 95 ERA+) vs. Felix Doubront (73-1/3 IP, 2.9 K/BB, 99 ERA+)
Game 3: Carlos Zambrano (78 IP, 1.6 K/BB, 106 ERA+) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (11 IP, 2.8 K/BB, 74 ERA+)
Buchholz's season numbers still have the Medusa-esque capability of turning viewers into stone, but there's nothing quite as beautiful as his production over the last six starts: 41-1/3 innings, 2.61 ERA, 7.6 strikeouts per nine, 2.4 walks per nine, and just four homers allowed. The fact he still owns an ERA as far below-average as this one goes to show you how awful he was to begin the year. But, the change-up is back, the curve is now an accessory rather than the main attraction, and Buchholz's velocity and movement are back where they need to be on his fastball.
Felix Doubront no-hit the Marlins for six frames last time out, and had his first seven-inning start of the year. He'll be in Fenway this time around, and have to face a DH, but he's certainly shown himself capable of just about anything when he manages to throw strikes and avoid too many fouled offerings. He'll take on Nolasco, who has cut into his strikeouts in order to reduce his walks and homers; the Red Sox forced him into his old habits last time out, and with a fuller lineup this time around, are just as able this time around.
Carlos Zambrano has a low ERA despite a terrible K/BB. Dice-K has a poor ERA despite plenty of strikeouts and a low (in Matsuzakian terms, anyway) walk rate. Baseball!
Emilio Bonifacio is still on the disabled list, so the Marlins won't be trotting out their most productive lineup in Boston. Miami has been using a variety of players as designated hitters during interleague, but the strongest bat off of their bench this season has been Austin Kearns.
The Red Sox are technically a little healthier than they were last time out, with Ross back, but if Scott Podsednik hits the disabled list with a groin injury to make room, then they aren't doing any better on the DL-side of things. Then again, Podsednik is inexplicably hovering around .400 this year with Boston, and that can't be expected to last forever. It might be better to see him replaced this way, rather than after regression has had its way.