After Thursday’s Fourth of July matinee at Fenway Park against the San Diego Padres, which will wrap up a nine-game home stand, the Red Sox will conclude the first half of the season with a 10-game West Coast trip before the All-Star break.
The Red Sox, who are 7-1 during the home stand, will face the Los Angeles Angels (three games), Seattle Mariners (four games), and the Oakland Athletics (three games) before the four-day break.
“This will be another good test for us,” manager John Farrell said before Thursday’s game. “I think it’s important to have that momentum going into the break. You never want to go into a stretch where you start to slide back from the confidence that has been built or the wins we’ve been able to amass.”
Jonny Gomes delivered a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Red Sox a 2-1 win over the Padres Wednesday night and extend their win streak to three.
Entering Thursday with a 52-34 record, the Red Sox lead the AL East with a 3.5 game lead over Baltimore, but will be tested on the trip. Oakland (49-36) is jockeying for first place with the Texas Rangers (48-36), and Los Angeles is 7-3 in its last 10.
“We’re going to be challenged,” Farrell said. “Not only in terms of the teams we’re playing, obviously the Angels are playing better now than when they were in town last. Oakland is having a very strong year in their own right, and the fact that we go out west, which presents its own set of challenges, this will be a tough trip.”
Farrell also said that shortstop Stephen Drew, who hasn’t played since June 28 after injuring his right hamstring, may return Saturday against Los Angeles.
“Stephen will run again today,” Farrell said. “We’re getting closer to hopefully staying away from the DL with Stephen. We’re thinking Saturday might be a day in which he’s back in the lineup if he continues to progress as he has the last couple of days. He’s moving in the right direction.”
Farrell and the Red Sox are also keeping a close eye on pitcher Clay Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched since June 8.
On Wednesday, Buchholz threw from 75 feet on flat ground, and prior to Thursday’s game, will throw from 90 feet, according to Farrell. After an off-day or light workout Friday, the next step is to have the righthander throw from 105 feet.
“We expect the same type of intensity today with a little bit more distance,” Farrell said. “[Friday] is a planned no-throw day or a real light catch day. Most importantly is how he is feeling this morning after a good work day yesterday.”