It seems a long time ago that the Mariners handed the Red Sox a 3-1 series defeat to open the season. Now over a month later the Mariners comes to face a surging Red Sox. The Sox took their May record to 7-2 and got themselves back to .500 on the season for the first time since the season began.
5/10 Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Erik Swanson (R) 7:10 pm NESN
5/11 Rick Porcello vs. Felix Hernandez (R) 1:05 pm NESN
5/12 Josh Smith vs. Marco Gonzales (L) 1:05 pm NESN
The Red Sox face two starting pitchers in Swanson (ERA: 4.94) and Hernandez (ERA: 5.20) who have struggled this season. However, they have had contrasting experiences on the road in 2019. Swanson has a 3.95 ERA on the road, compared to an ERA of 6.16 on the road for Hernandez.
Josh Smith’s first career start for the Red Sox was somewhat of a disaster, as he allowed four earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings. Unfortunately, that is representative of his career as a starter so far. In 41 2/3 innings as a starter, Smith has a 6.48 ERA. However, with David Price and Nathan Eovaldi on the IL, the Red Sox need their 31-year old righty to step up in this start.
This season has been somewhat of a disaster for both Rodriguez and Porcello. However, the shining ray of light in two tough seasons has been their home form. Rodriguez has a 3.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 inning in Fenway Park this season. Similarly, Porcello has 3.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 18 innings.
Over 20 career games “King Felix” has been a thorn in the Red Sox side. There have been a handful of occasions where the Red Sox got to him in his career, but for the large part he has been very impressive. Hernandez is no longer the pitcher he once was, but the Red Sox should still be wary, as he held them to just two runs in seven innings in his one outing against them last season.
The Red Sox offense stumbled a little in Baltimore, scoring just 11 runs across those three games. However in amongst that there were home runs for Andrew Benintendi (4), J.D. Martinez (5) and Mookie Betts (7). If those three can springboard into a big series against the Mariners, the Red Sox can sail to a plus .500 record for the first time this season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Rotation: I think I have mentioned the rotation in every series preview I have done this season. It would be lovely if we could just get some more of these question marks answered. The ace in the pack, Chris Sale, has calmed any fears. But now we need Porcello or Rodriguez to step up. Frankly, anything we get from Smith and Hector Velasquez is a major bonus, but for this team to continue this momentum the current #2 and #3 guys in this rotation have to step up.
Hitting: It might be time to start worrying about Jackie Bradley. His batting average is a woeful .142, and he has just three extra base hits in 123 plate appearances. On the bright side, he has stolen three bases, and his defense is a long way from being a liability. However, he is one of three hitters on the current 25-man roster with a batting average below .200, and this is the time of the season where that becomes a major concern.
A little hiccup in game two against the Orioles could not stop the Red Sox getting to .500 for the first time since Opening Day. However, they remain five games behind the impressive Rays, and are still 3.5 games behind a banged up Yankees squad. This series against a Mariners team flailing at 2-7 in May gives them the perfect opportunity to try and make a dent in the lead of those two teams.
The threat from the Mariners is their hitting. They rank first in both runs scored and home runs, as well as third in slugging percentage. However, their rotation is not great, and this is the weakest part of it. Unfortunately, this is also the weakest part of the Red Sox! This could be a fun high scoring weekend, which hopefully the Red Sox can escape from with a 2-1 record.