Winners in 17 of their last 22 games, the Red Sox begin the unofficial second half tonight at Fenway Park, facing the A’s to kick off an eight-game homestand vs. Oakland, Kansas City, and Texas.
Some bits and pieces courtesy of the Red Sox pregame notes:
1. Red Sox 189-91 .675
2. Yankees (AL) 186-101 .648
3. Braves 178-109 .620
4. Cardinals 177-109 .619
5. Athletics 178-111 .616
The Red Sox have 44 home games remaining on their 2006 schedule, more than any other team in all of baseball.
The Red Sox went 6-4 against the Athletics last season and have now won 10 of their last 13 games against Oakland at Fenway.
Tonight: RHP Esteban Loaiza (3-5, 6.43)
Friday: LHP Barry Zito (8-6, 3.29)
Saturday: RHP Dan Haren (6-7, 3.52)
Sunday: RHP Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.95)
Lester is unbeaten in six major league starts and the Red Sox have won his last five starts. He has earned the win in four of his last five starts with a 2.57 ERA after recording a no-decision in his major league debut June 10 vs. the Rangers.
Since 1960, only eight Red Sox left-handed starters have won as many as four games in their rookie campaigns, most recently done by Vaughn Eshelman, who won five starts as a Red Sox rookie in 1995.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was promoted to Double-A Portland yesterday from Single-A Wilmington. A 2006 Carolina League All-Star, Ellsbury batted .298 with 4 home runs, five triples, 32 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 60 games for the Blue Rocks this season.
Boston’s top pick (23rd overall) in 2005, Ellsbury began his pro career last season with short-season Single-A Lowell, batting .317 with 28 runs scored, 19 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 35 games…the 22-year-old made the jump to Advanced Single-A Wilmington to begin the 2006 campaign.
PawSox team leaders at the break:
Team batting average – Ron Calloway (.317);
Home runs – Jeff Bailey (16); RBI – Bailey (53);
Runs scored – Adam Stern (42);
Wins – Abe Alvarez, Marc Deschenes and Craig Breslow (5);
Saves – Jermaine Van Buren (9);
Appearances – Tim Bausher (27); Innings Pitched – Matt Ginter (89.0);
Starters ERA – Jon Lester (2.70);
Relievers ERA – Van Buren (1.71).
The brother Papelbon: Righthander Joshua Papelbon has notched two saves for the Single-A Lowell Spinners without allowing an earned run through his first six appearances (7 1/3 IP). The Red Sox, in the 48th round of this year’s draft, selected Joshua, 23-year-old brother of Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Pawtucket lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow, who represented the International League at the 2006 Triple-A All-Star Game in Toledo, has gone 5-1 with five saves and a 3.40 ERA in 26 games out of the bullpen. The 25-year-old has 50 strikeouts in 45 innings, while limiting International League opponents to a .226 batting average. The Yale product and Trumbull, Conn. resident signed with the Red Sox as a minor league free agent in February.