Cardinals @ Red Sox Series Preview

Red Sox Need to Tame Albert Pujols

Having won 6 of their previous 7 games with a record of 33-28 on the year, the Cardinals should prove to be a tough opponent for the Red Sox in their upcoming series. Facing a red-hot Woody Williams (8-1) in Tuesday's series opener is the recently acquired Byung-Hyun Kim (2-5), making his second career start with Boston. Kim will need to be sharp as Williams leads the majors with a 1.99 ERA over 86 innings.

The good news for the Red Sox is a returning and hopefully healthy Pedro Martinez (4-2), fresh off the DL. Pedro's back is feeling much better, as he will start the 2nd of a six-game homestand (St. Louis and Houston) after Boston's recent 12 game road-trip. Having gone 5-7 over that stretch, Boston sits at 35-26 on the year, good for a ½ game lead over New York in the American League East. Pedro has experienced two terrible pitching performances, albeit maintaining a 2.83 ERA, good for 2nd in the AL behind Esteban Loaiza's surprising ERA of 2.06. Disregarding two horrible starts, in which he gave up a combined 15 earned runs over 9 1/3 innings (4/12 vs. Baltimore and 5/9 @ Minnesota), here is Pedro's 2003 game log:

Date

OPP

Result

IP

H

ER

HR

BB

SO

#Pit

3/31

@ TB

L 4-6

7.0

3

0

0

1

6

91

4/5

@ BAL

L 1-2

8.0

4

1

0

0

6

92

4/17

TB

W 6-0

7.0

2

0

0

3

3

92

4/22

@ TEX

W 5-4

7.0

3

0

0

6

8

122

4/27

@ ANA

W 6-4

7.0

6

2

2

1

10

101

5/3

MIN

W 9-1

9.0

5

1

0

0

12

108

5/15

TEX

W 12-3

6.0

5

0

0

1

8

84



28 hits and 12 walks in 51 innings (0.78 WHIP) is impressive enough, but only 4 earned runs (0.71 ERA) and a whopping 53 strikeouts (1+ K per IP) could even make the ghost of Babe Ruth gawk in amazement. The Red Sox will need Pedro to both remain healthy and be his usual (dominant) self in order to continue competing for the division title. While the Yankees ride hot on their heels, the Blue Jays are only 2 ½ games out of 1st place and must also be considered as armed and extremely dangerous.

Facing Pedro on Wednesday is 30 year old, Brett Tomko (2-4), in his first season with St. Louis. Tomko is looking for his first victory since April 25th while Martinez will be seeking his 5th win of the season.

Rounding out the series will be the pitching matchup of Tim Wakefield (5-2) against Garrett Stephenson (3-5). Unfortunately, Wakefield was hit by a pitch on the ankle in his first interleague plate appearance on Friday, but X-rays revealed no fracture. Although temporarily listed as day-to-day, the Red Sox are hoping that Wakefield will have no trouble starting on Thursday.

Assuming Wakefield makes his next scheduled start, this series will feature six righty starters. Both Boston and St. Louis have fared very well against right-handed pitchers so far this season, especially in the on-base department. Both teams lead their respective leagues in on-base percentage against righties (.360 for Boston and .354 for St. Louis), while the Red Sox lead the AL in slugging percentage (.492) as well. St. Louis is 2nd in NL slugging percentage (.468) against righties behind Atlanta. Boston's pitching enters the series with the 2nd worst ERA in the American League (5.26), mostly due to poor bullpen performance. A clear pitching advantage for the Cardinals in the first game paired with the mismatch of Pedro vs. anybody in the 2nd game, the potential rubber match between Wakefield and Stephenson could prove to be crucial. Unless Woody or Pedro pitch away from their norms, look for a slugfest in the 3rd game of the series, pending the rare gem from either of Thursday's starters.

Fantasy Spin: Pujols and Edmonds should continue their early season success against righties while Pedro owners should take him off the DL and hope that some rest was all that he needed. Manny Ramirez will continue to tear it up at the plate, with 5 home runs in his last 8 games, including 13 RBI during that time.

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