Moyer seeks to end his eight-start winless stretch against the Red Sox on Tuesday when these division leaders play the middle game of their interleague series.
Entering this series, Boston (44-29) had won three straight meetings with the Phillies (42-30) and 11 of 13 since Sept. 1, 2003. That run came to an end Monday, when Ryan Howard went 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs to lead Philadelphia to an 8-2 victory.
It was the ninth win in the last 11 home games for the Phillies, who wasted no time bouncing back from dropping the final two games of their weekend series at St. Louis.
“I believe we’re destined to play each other in the World Series,” said Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, who pitched seven strong innings to earn the win. “We can compete with them any day of the week.”
Howard, meanwhile, is sizzling. The 2006 NL MVP has struggled most of the season, but is 9-for-18 with four home runs, 13 RBIs and seven runs scored in his last four games to raise his average 20 points to .224.
“I’m just up there trying to be as relaxed as possible,” Howard said. “Whatever the numbers are, it doesn’t matter as long as we get the win.”
As poorly as his team had fared in the past against Boston, Moyer (7-3, 4.12 ERA) has arguably had even more trouble. The 45-year-old left-hander, who made 23 appearances during a stint with the Red Sox in 1996, is 6-11 with a 6.69 ERA — his highest versus any opponent—in 22 career appearances against Boston, including 20 starts.
In eight starts versus the Red Sox since May 8, 2001, Moyer is 0-6 with a 9.76 ERA and a .320 opponent batting average.
It’s no coincidence that 2001—the beginning of Moyer’s worst stretch against Boston—is the same season Manny Ramirez joined the Red Sox. Ramirez is 17-for-50 (.340) lifetime against Moyer with 10 home runs, the slugger’s most homers against any pitcher as well as the most off Moyer by a single batter.
The 10 homers are also tied for the most by any active batter against any active pitcher. Luis Gonzalez has 10 career home runs off Greg Maddux, but those have come in 104 at-bats—more than double the times Ramirez has faced Moyer.
Moyer takes on the Red Sox one start after beating the team against which he’s had the most success. The veteran improved to 9-0 in as many starts versus the Florida Marlins on Thursday, allowing two hits and one walk over eight innings of the Phillies’ 3-0 victory.
Boston also sends a left-hander to the mound in Jon Lester (5-3, 3.43), who has never faced Philadelphia but is currently pitching the best ball of his three-year career.
Lester hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last nine starts. He’s 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in that stretch, which includes a no-hitter against Kansas City on May 19.
Lester defeated the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, limiting them to two runs and seven hits in seven innings of Boston’s 9-2 win.
Both of these clubs have had great success against left-handed starters. Boston is a major league-best 10-2 when the opponent starts a southpaw, while Philadelphia is 17-8—the 17 wins are the most in the majors.
The Red Sox, who had won consecutive games and four of five entering this set, are in danger of losing an interleague series for the first time since dropping two of three to Colorado from June 12-14, 2007. That was six interleague series ago for Boston.