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Red Sox Start West Coast Trip in Seattle: Fan Preview

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The 40-35 Boston Red Sox finished a 7-2 homestand by climbing to third place in the AL East for the first time all season. Now they head out on the road for their first west coast swing of the year, starting with a four-game series with the 32-45 Seattle Mariners from June 28 to July 1. The Mariners enter the series in the midst of a scoring slump. They scored just four combined runs in their previous three-game series against the Oakland Athletics and they're batting just .203 with a .567 OPS over the last week.

David Ortiz enters the series just one home run shy of 400 for his career. He leads the AL with a 1.028 OPS through 313 plate appearances. He leads a hot Red Sox lineup which has a .869 OPS over the last two weeks. Dustin Pedroia, who has battled a thumb injury for the last month, appears to be heating up. He went 8-for-19 with three walks and three extra-base hits over the last five games.

Pitching matchups:

June 28: Franklin Morales (3.12 ERA, 37/9 K/BB) vs. Felix Hernandez (3.36 ERA, 101/31 K/BB)

Through two starts, Morales has consistently attacked the strike zone, maintained his velocity from start to finish, and missed plenty of bats. His performance has been impressive enough to make the Red Sox consider using a temporary six-man rotation. Though Hernandez's fastball velocity is down, he remains in ace form. After a rare stretch of three straight non-quality starts, he rebounded with two dominant outings against the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres to finish interleague play.

June 29: Aaron Cook (9.39 ERA, 0/1 K/BB) vs. Hector Noesi (5.50 ERA, 56/33 K/BB)

Cook returned from the disabled list and threw a solid five innings against the Atlanta Braves on June 24. He remains without a strikeout through 7.2 innings. When it comes time for Boston to return to a standard five-man rotation, he should be the top candidate for demotion. Noesi owns a 0.61 groundball-to-flyball ratio with 15 home runs allowed in 86.2 innings. He pitches far better at Safeco Field than on the road; he has a 3.20 ERA, .273 OBP allowed, and .367 opponents' slugging percentage at home.

June 30: Josh Beckett (4.14 ERA, 56/17 K/BB) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (4.18 ERA, 23/7 K/BB)

Before going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Beckett gave the Red Sox six straight starts of seven-plus innings. In the third start of his MLB career, Ramirez held Oakland to one run and struck out ten in eight innings on June 25.

July 1: Felix Doubront (4.54 ERA, 87/29 K/BB) vs. Jason Vargas (4.54 ERA, 74/29 K/BB)

Doubront has hit a rough patch for the first time this season. He allowed four-plus runs in three of his last four games. His season ERA jumped from 3.75 to 4.54 in that stretch. Vargas struggled against the Red Sox on May 14, allowing five runs in six innings. While he has allowed the most home runs (21) by any pitcher in the majors, only five have come at Safeco.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Yahoo! Sports

MLB Statistics, ESPN.com

FanGraphs.com

William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.

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