Thursday, July 9, 2009

Red Sox again to miss top starter

Zack Greinke allowed three earned runs in six innings on Wednesday night, taking his fifth loss of the season. He gave up a couple of early runs and wasn't helped when his left fielder threw a rainbow back to the infield that allowed a key runner to take second base. He also wasn't helped by an offense that couldn't seem to solve a rookie named Luke French, scoring just one run in the 6 1/3 innings in which the soft-tossing lefty was in the game.

All that, though, isn't something the Red Sox are too worried about. Greinke could have pitched a one-hit shutout on Wednesday and it wouldn't have made any difference.

What matters is that Greinke won't pitch at Fenway Park this week -- and, thus, the Red Sox streak of missing some of the best pitchers in the major leagues will continue. Out of the top five starting pitchers in the American League, in fact, the Red Sox have faced just one:

Greinke (10-5, 2.12 ERA, 203 ERA+)
The odds-on favorite to start next week's All-Star Game pitched Wednesday night and will not pitch again until he shows up in St. Louis. That means he'll miss the only series the Royals play at Fenway Park this season. The Red Sox will travel to Kansas City in late September for four games that, given how tight the American League East suddenly looks, could loom large.

Edwin Jackson, Detroit (6-4, 2.59 ERA, 173 ERA+)
When the Red Sox traveled to Detroit in early May, they beat rookie Rick Porcello (4.14 ERA), Armando Galarraga (5.03 ERA) and Dontrelle Willis (7.49 ERA) and missed Jackson as well as American League strikeout leader Justin Verlander (3.59 ERA). Incredible.

The Tigers play four games at Fenway Park in mid-August. Wouldn't it be something to see Verlander match up against Josh Beckett or Jon Lester?

Felix Hernandez, Seattle (8-3, 2.62 ERA, 162 ERA+)
King Felix threw seven strong innings (three earned runs, seven hits, seven strikeouts, three walks) at Fenway Park on July 3, but Nick Green hit a two-run double off reliever Shawn Kelley in the bottom of the eighth inning to send the game to extra innings. The Mariners won in the 11th inning.

When the Red Sox played the Mariners in Seattle, though, they missed out on Hernandez. They instead faced Chris Jakubauskas, Garrett Olson and Justin Vargas -- and they still lost two out of three.

Roy Halladay, Toronto (10-2, 2.79 ERA, 154 ERA+)
This one has to be unbelievably frustrating for Cito Gaston and the Blue Jays. Five different pitchers have started their six games against the Red Sox and not one has been Halladay. As a group, they have a 4.94 ERA in those starts. Halladay, meanwhile, had a 2.56 ERA and a 24-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five starts against the Red Sox a year ago.

(Maybe that's karma. The Red Sox had to face Halladay five times last season. That's not really fair, either.)

You have to believe Halladay will get a crack at the Red Sox, though, when the two teams meet immediately following the All-Star break.

Mark Buehrle, Chicago (9-2, 3.14 ERA, 147 ERA+)
The Red Sox have not yet played the White Sox. They won't play the White Sox, in fact, until a home-and-home scheduled for the last week of August and the first week of September.

Maybe, by then, Buehrle will have retired.

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