The last time the Giants played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Hank Aaron wasn’t the all-time home run leader yet. Neither was Babe Ruth.
With Barry Bonds eight homers shy of Aaron’s career record, the San Francisco Giants visit the Red Sox for the first time since the 1912 World Series on Friday night when the teams open a three-game interleague set.
The Red Sox defeated the then-New York Giants in eight games to win the World Series in 1912—Fenway’s inaugural season. At the time, Ruth’s career had yet to begin and the home run record was 138 by Roger Connor, a first baseman who spent roughly half his career with the Giants in the 19th century.
The Giants (30-35) have not faced the Red Sox at Fenway since, and neither has Bonds. Even when the All-Star game was played in Boston in 1999, the San Francisco left fielder did not make the NL team.
The Giants did play the Boston Braves at Fenway during the 1915 season.
“The dugouts are small, the clubhouses are small, but there’s no complaining about it,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, who visited Fenway as San Diego’s manager in 2004, told the Giants’ official Web site. “I think everyone appreciates the history of the ballpark itself.”
These teams played a three-game series at San Francisco in 2004, when the Giants won two of the matchups. Bonds, though, went just 1-for-9 with a single in that set. The Red Sox, Devil Rays and Indians—whom he has never faced—are the only clubs against which he has never homered.
While Bonds will likely get a chilly reception from Red Sox fans, Giants center fielder Dave Roberts figures to receive a standing ovation. Although Roberts only played part of one season in Boston, he made one of the most pivotal plays in Red Sox history.
As a pinch-runner in Game 4 of the 2004 AL Championship Series against the Yankees, he stole second base and later scored to send the game to extra innings. The Red Sox rallied to win the contest as well as the following seven and their first World Series title since 1918.
“To be a part of something that hasn’t been done in 86 years, that’s something I’m going to take with me forever,” Roberts told the Giants’ Web site. “The steal, the parade, the ring ceremony, those are all things I’m going to take with me to my grave.”
San Francisco faces a reeling Red Sox (41-24) team which owns the best record in baseball, but has seen its once-mammoth AL East lead cut nearly in half in just over two weeks. Boston led New York by 14 1/2 games on May 29, but is just 5-9 since. The Yankees, winners of nine straight, have moved within 7 1/2 games.
The Red Sox have scored a total of just six runs in their last four games, and dropped the final two of their three-game series with the Colorado Rockies by a combined 19-3. Boston went 3-for-27 with runners in scoring position in the series, including 1-for-13 in Thursday’s 7-1 defeat.
Boston sends former Giants reliever Julian Tavarez (3-4, 5.25 ERA) to the mound to start the series opener. The right-hander, who made 196 appearances out of the bullpen for San Francisco from 1997-99, is 2-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 13 appearances—two starts—versus the Giants since he left them.
Bonds is 0-for-4 with a strikeout against him.
After winning two consecutive starts, Tavarez has failed to earn a decision in his last three outings. He pitched six innings at Arizona on Saturday, allowing three runs in a game the Red Sox won 4-3 in 10 innings.
Giants starter Barry Zito (6-6, 4.02) looks to rebound after having his personal three-game winning streak snapped Saturday against his former team. The left-hander allowed four runs and nine hits in just four innings of a 6-0 loss to Oakland.
Zito is 5-5 with a 4.78 ERA in 13 career starts versus Boston, all while pitching for the Athletics.
San Francisco took two of three home games from Toronto, but lost the finale 7-4 on Wednesday. The Giants have dropped 13 of their last 19 to fall into last place in the NL West.