Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

White Sox: Welcome to the biggest, most important, 16-game stretch of the season. It is do or die and it all starts with a four-game set with the Boston Red Sox, starting Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.

Opponent: Boston Red Sox
Record: 39-28, .582, .5 GB (AL East)
Place: U. S. Cellular Field
Time & TV: Game 1: 7:05 p.m. (WCIU); Game 2: 7:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 3: 7:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 4: 1:05 p.m. (WGN)
2002 Record vs Sox: 2-4
2003 Record vs Sox: 0-0

The Red Sox have been heating up through the last couple of rounds of interleague play. They have won eight of their last 12 and are coming off a sweep of the Houston Astros. Boston is led at the plate by Bill Mueller and Nomar Garciaparra, who are batting .344 and .333 respectively. Manny Ramirez also leads Boston with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs. The rotation is led by Pedro Martinez with an ERA of 2.70, but he has only started 10 games so far. Boston has a closer by committee, led by Brandon Lyon, who has seven saves.

WHO'S HOT (Last 7 days)
Nomar Garciaparra, SS: .500, 2 2B, 2 3B, 6 RBI, 6 R, .531 OBP, 1.460 OPS
--Garciaparra has been going crazy at the plate of late. Of his 14 hits in his last 28 at-bats, only six have not been a double or triple.

WHO'S NOT (Last 7 days)
Bill Mueller, 3B: .261, 6 hits in 23 at-bats, 2 BB, 2 K's, 1 GIP
--This is reaching, but Mueller has been the least productive man at the plate for the Red Sox. He still ranks second in the AL in batting average.

Game #1:
Mark Buehrle (2-10, 5.18, 44 K) vs. Pedro Martinez (4-2. 2.70, 65 K)
--Coming into the season, this matchup would've been considered All-Star material, but with Buehrle lagging and Martinez being injured this start has lost some of its luster. However, Martinez still has most of his intensity and he is scheduled to go five innings.

Game #2:
Bartolo Colon (6-6, 3.99, 70 K) vs. John Burkett (4-3, 5.74, 41 K)
--Burkett has been extremely shaky this year in most of his starts. His ERA has been near six for most of the season and he can't seem to string together two or three quality starts. Burkett gives up numerous hits, so run production against him should be fairly easy.

Game #3:
Esteban Loaiza (9-2, 2.24, 78 K) vs. Tim Wakefield (5-2, 5.04, 69 K)
--Wakefield has been having many of the same problems as Burkett, and he too has not been making many quality starts as of late. Regardless, he has been striking out numerous batters this year and has received no-decisions in a few games he should have won.

Game #4:
Dan Wright (0-3, 6.00, 24 K) vs. Derek Lowe (0-2, 6.97, 2 K)
--This former closer has not been disappointing for Boston. His ground ball to fly ball ratio, at 4:1, is one of the best in the majors. He walks a lot of batters, but has been pitching exceptionally in the month of June. He is 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA this month.

Play fundamental baseball. Careless mistakes cost the White Sox a sweep of the Padres, along with quite a few of their losses. Near-flawless baseball will be needed in this series.

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