Maybe seeing one of the greatest hitters in franchise history get his number retired will further inspire the Boston Red Sox’s bats.
Facing a rookie pitcher for a second straight night might also help.
Following a ceremony to honor recent Hall of Fame inductee Jim Rice, the Red Sox will try to keep breaking out of their batting slump Tuesday night as they take on struggling youngster Vin Mazzaro(notes) and the Oakland Athletics.
Not only did Rice wait 15 years to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his final try—he was inducted Sunday—but it took two decades for the Red Sox to retire his No. 14 jersey. The eight-time All-Star ranks third on the franchise’s all-time list in at-bats, hits, home runs and RBIs.
“The retirement of his number will be a fitting way to honor one of the most dominant hitters to ever wear a Red Sox uniform,” team owner John Henry said.
Before the start of Tuesday’s game, Rice’s number will be posted at Fenway Park alongside Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Carlton Fisk.
The day of Rice’s Hall of Fame induction, Boston failed to reach 10 hits for the eighth time in nine games in a 6-2 loss to Baltimore. However, the Red Sox (58-40) may be ready for a breakout week following an 8-3 win Monday to open this four-game set.
The Red Sox hope to have similar success against the 22-year-old Mazzaro (2-7, 4.75), who has been ripped in his last two outings for 14 runs and 18 hits in 7 1-3 innings. Since winning his first two major league starts, the right-hander has gone 0-7 with a 6.31 ERA in eight outings—losing his last six.
Mazzaro, winless since June 7, has never faced Boston.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Pedroia said.
It’s the middle of the order where Boston has been hurting.
Kevin Youkilis(notes) had been hitless in 13 at-bats before a fifth-inning single Monday, and Jason Bay(notes) had an RBI after going 12 games without one. J.D. Drew(notes) had his first two-hit game since July 3, though he only has one RBI in his last 10. David Ortiz(notes) singled Monday but has one homer in his last 11 games.
Boston has won three of four following a 1-5 road trip and now seeks a fourth consecutive series win at Fenway.
The Athletics have never faced Boston’s Clay Buchholz(notes) (1-1, 3.72 ERA), who could be making his final start before being sent back to the minors. He was called up last week to start for Tim Wakefield(notes), who went on the disabled list with a back injury but is eligible to return Aug. 2.
Buchholz pitched well in his season debut July 17 at Toronto, allowing a run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings, but he wasn’t as effective Wednesday. The right-hander lasted only four innings, allowing three runs and six hits in a 3-1 loss to Texas.
Both outings came on the road, however, and Buchholz is 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA in seven career starts at Fenway.