Preview for 7/23 – Red Sox (Lester) vs. Rays (Hernandez)

Preview for 7/23 – Red Sox (Lester) vs. Rays (Hernandez)

After getting shut out for nine innings by a dominant display from the Rays’ Matt Moore, the Red Sox will look to bounce back and restore some of the distance between them and the Rays in the standings.

Luckily for the Red Sox they couldn’t have asked for a better starting pitcher to do it against, as Tampa Bay sends struggling right-hander Roberto Hernandez to the hill tonight. Hernandez has struggled to keep runs off the board since throwing eight and two-third innings of one run ball against a pitiful Miami Marlins’ offense (a starting line-up that is hitting .233 for the season) on May 29th.

In fact; Hernandez is mired in a streak of eight straight starts in which he’s failed to keep line-ups to three or less runs and has allowed a whopping  eight or more hits in five of those starts.

Hernandez’s struggles are music to the ears of David Ortiz whom has owned the righty in his career to the tune of a .417 batting average (10 for 24) including a homerun, three doubles and five runs batted in.

With the offense eager to pick itself up off the mat, the challenge falls onto the shoulders of a streaky Jon Lester to keep them in this game long enough for those runs to come. Lester has had flashes of brilliance, including a one-hit shutout of Toronto back in May but his starts have been anything but consistent.

With 20 starts in the books this season Lester has failed to keep offenses in check in nearly half of them, giving up four or more runs in nine of those starts.

The worst part? Eight out of those nine starts have come over his last 10 appearances.

On the plus side? Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria have been at the heart of the Rays line-up this season, but are hitting a combined .215 against Lester lifetime with an atrocious 35 strikeouts in 97 at-bats. So the Rays will most likely have to look elsewhere for their offense tonight. That combined with a full ten days of rest under his belt, Lester will look to return to form against a team that seems to bring out the strike out artist in him.

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