Home sweet home

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:

  • The Red Sox tonight begin a stretch in which they play 26 of their first 38 games at home after the All-Star break. Winners of their last nine games at Fenway, Boston boasts the best home record in all of baseball since the start of the 2003 season:

    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 Sox and Athletics will meet 10 times in 2006, though these four games this weekend represent Oakland’s lone trip to Boston in 2006. The Red Sox make two trips to the Bay Area this season for a pair of three-game series: July 24-26 and Aug. 28-30.

    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.

  • The A’s have revised their rotation for this weekend’s series in Boston:

    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)

  • Jon Lester tonight looks to become the first Red Sox rookie starter to win his first five decisions since Aaron Sele won his first six decisions in 1993. Lester is the first Red Sox rookie left-handed starter to win his first four decisions since Rick Jones in 1976.

    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.

  • Already this season, five Red Sox pitchers have earned their first major league win: Lester, Lenny DiNardo, Jermaine Van Buren, Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen.
  • Big numbers for Big Papi: David Ortiz has already connected for 31 home runs this season, his fourth campaign with at least 30 homers in four seasons with the Red Sox…he joins Manny Ramirez (first five) and Jimmie Foxx (first five) as the only players in club history with 30 homers in their first four seasons as a Red Sox. According to Elias, Ortiz became the fastest Red Sox to 30 homers in club history in 84 team games, breaking the mark of 96 games set by Manny Ramirez in 2001.
  • Some updates from the Red Sox minor league report:

    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.

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