Boston Red Sox (85-35 SU, 72-48 RL, 55-60-5 O/U) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (65-52 SU, 59-58 RL, 49-62-6 O/U)
MLB: Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. EST
The Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox will wrap up a brief two-game series when they square off at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Boston is the best team in baseball and was 10-1 in its last 11 outings prior to Tuesday’s opener. The Phillies were just 1-3 in their last four contests heading into Tuesday.
Best in the business
The Red Sox are a laughable 50 games over .500, 29-6 in their last 35 games, and continue to cruise toward the best record in franchise history along with an American League East crown. One of the few teams they have had trouble scoring against since the all-star break is Philadelphia. The Red Sox lead the majors in most offensive categories, including runs scored (659), but managed just three runs in splitting a two-game series against the Phillies at home to close out last month. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts (finger) sat out this past Sunday at Baltimore and is day-to-day. Right fielder Mookie Betts is 15-for-33 with 12 runs scored during an eight-game hitting streak.
Left-hander Brian Johnson (3-3, 3.95 ERA) is taking the mound for Boston on Wednesday. Johnson has bounced back and forth from the starting rotation to the bullpen with mixed returns in both departments. The 27-year-old is sporting decent numbers for the season as a whole, but he has surrendered 10 runs (nine earned) over his last three appearances spanning 13.0 total innings. On the bright side, Johnson struck out 18 batters in those 13.0 innings.
While Boston enjoys a healthy 10-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East, Philadelphia is locked in a battle atop the NL East and sits one game behind the first-place Braves, with the Nationals struggling but not out of the picture at 6.5 games back. The Phillies dropped two of three at lowly San Diego over the weekend, including the rubber match via a 9-3 decision. First baseman Carlos Santana is 3-for-24 over his last seven games, dropping his batting average to .215.
“(We’re) trying not to focus too much on what’s going on outside this clubhouse, whether Atlanta loses, Washington wins or loses,” right-hander Jake Arrieta said following a 9-3 loss to San Diego this past Sunday. “It’s like, ‘Let’s just try and win the game that day.’ If we do that and we stay healthy, we’re going to end up in a good spot. The spot we want to be in.”
Vince Velasquez (8-9, 3.98 ERA) will oppose Johnson on Wednesday. The right-hander’s ERA plunged from 4.82 in mid-June to 3.80 following his penultimate start, but he struggled for the first time in a while last Wednesday at Arizona. Velasquez allowed four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out two batters in 4.0 innings of work during a 6-0 loss by Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Phillies are:
- 4-9 in their last 13 interleague games against teams with winning records
- 4-9 in Velasquez’s last 13 starts
- 8-20 in his last 28 starts against teams with winning records
- 2-8 in their last 10 games against Boston
- 11-2-1 Under in their last 14 overall
The Boston Red Sox are:
- 41-13 in their last 54 overall
- 43-19 in their last 62 road games
- 41-12 in their last 53 interleague games
- 43-13 in their last 56 games against right-handed starters
- 4-0 in their last four games against teams with winning record