It might mean even more to Drew to continue his prolific June against the second team that selected the Red Sox right fielder.
Drew will face his first major league team on Friday when the St. Louis Cardinals visit Fenway Park for the first time since they lost the first two games of the 2004 World Series there.
After struggling for much of his first season in Boston last year, Drew has been the Red Sox’s best hitter in 2008, leading the team with a .327 batting average. He’s been especially impressive during the month of June, hitting .441 with nine home runs, 21 RBIs and a 1.085 slugging percentage in 17 games.
“He’s been tremendous,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Drew. “The timing has been impeccable.”
Drew’s best game may have been Wednesday, when he went 4-for-5 with a home run, a double and four RBIs in a 7-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Drew was booed throughout the series in Philadelphia after he was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign.
The Cardinals (42-32) chose him a year later, and Drew played parts of six seasons in St. Louis. Since he was traded to Atlanta before the 2004 season, however, he’s hit just .154 in 15 games against his former team, losing the last nine against them with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005-06.
“I’ve still got some good friends over on that side and they’ve got a good team,” Drew told the Red Sox’s official Web site. ” … They’ve bounced around a little bit with some injuries, but they seem to keep their head above water every year.”
While the Red Sox haven’t struggled without Ortiz, coming home after a 4-2 road trip, the Cardinals have slumped without Albert Pujols, who is on the disabled list with a calf injury.
St. Louis is just 3-5 without the former NL MVP and is stumbling into Boston after getting swept in three games at home by lowly Kansas City. The Cardinals hadn’t been swept all season, but they scored just four total runs against the Royals.
“He’s a major force that’s not in your lineup, but this club against us has thrown a bunch of quality starts,” manager Tony La Russa said of the Royals.
The Cardinals haven’t lost four in a row this year, but they’ll have to beat baseball’s best home team to avoid it. The Red Sox open a six-game homestand with a 28-7 record at Fenway Park, having won 17 of their last 19 games at home.
They’ll send Tim Wakefield - who has thrown at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs in four straight starts - to the mound Friday, just as they did in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series against St. Louis.
The Cardinals scored five runs off Wakefield (4-4, 4.19 ERA) and chased him after just 3 2-3 innings, but the Red Sox still won the game 11-9 en route to a sweep and their first championship in 86 years. St. Louis also battered him for five runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-1 home win over the Red Sox in 2005.
Another win, meanwhile, would be the sixth straight for the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (8-2, 3.77).
In his last five starts, Lohse is 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA. He allowed two runs and just four hits in eight innings of a 3-2 win over Philadelphia Saturday, but he’s 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox, all coming while he was with Minnesota.