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BOSTON RED SOX (1-0) at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (0-1)
The Phillies look to rebound from the pounding they took from this Boston Red Sox group in the opener when they meet in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The Red Sox come into this year off a poor 2014 season, but made a flurry of moves in the offseason in order to improve and it certainly paid off on Opening Day. In the game they won 8-0 over this Phillies team behind nine hits and one of their newer acquisitions, OF Hanley Ramirez, jacked two HRs (5 RBIs) as longtime Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia hit a pair of long balls himself. The other big offseason signing, 3B Pablo Sandoval, did not get in the groove early, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Philadelphia is in a transition phase and has shed a few of its bigger contracts in an effort to improve its future. If Mondays contest was a foreshadowing of the season to come, the Phillies are in trouble as they managed a meager three hits as they went 0-for-3 with RISP. The 1-3 hitters were particularly poor, combining to go 0-for-12 with four strikeouts. The pitching matchup in this game will feature 26-year-old youngster RHP Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43 ERA in 2014) and RHP Aaron Harang (12-12, 3.57 ERA in 2014); both making debuts with their new teams. Neither team did well last year, finishing last in their respective divisions as Boston was a poor 37-44 (.457) when on the road as Philadelphia put up the same 37-44 record (.457) as the home team. The Red Sox win in the first game of this series upped their record to 3-2 against the Phillies over the past three seasons, outscoring them 30-12 in that time. Trends show us that Philadelphia is a mere 44-59 (.427) in home games against AL East opponents since 1997 as Boston is a poor 34-43 (.442) as a favorite of -110 or higher in the past two seasons. The injury report has closer Koji Uehara (Hamstring) on the 15-day DL for the Red Sox as the Phillies are still without OF Dominic Brown (Achillies) for a little longer.
Porcello was a tremendous starter in his time with the Tigers, putting together a career 76-63 record despite being just 26-years-old as hes had double-digit wins in each of the past five seasons. He hit 200+ innings for the first time last year as he posted a career-best 3.43 ERA, but saw his strikeouts drop to a mere 5.7 K/9. With the fewer strikeouts came fewer walks, giving up just 1.8 BB/9 as he allowed a meager 0.79 homeruns per nine frames. Porcello has seen this opponent just once in his career when he grabbed a win behind six innings of three-run ball (7 hits) with three strikeouts. He hasnt had much of a chance to face many of these National League opponents, but has seen OF Ben Revere 19 times, giving up seven hits (1 triple, 2 RBIs) and failing to strike him out. Only one other player, OF Grady Sizemore, has double-digit at-bats against the righty and he is only 3-for-18 (.167) in that time with three strikeouts. The Sox bullpen was solid last year, going 21-27 (.438) with a 3.33 ERA (1.27 WHIP) as they successfully saved 36-of-54 (67percent) games. Junichi Tazawa (0.00 ERA, 0 saves) will hold down the closers role until Uehara comes off the disabled list and he is coming off a solid 2014 campaign when he struck out better than a batter per inning and had a 2.86 ERA over 63.0 IP.
Harang really had an impressive bounce-back season in 2014 with the Braves, getting a career-best 3.57 ERA as he struck out over seven batters per nine innings for the second consecutive year. He didnt allow many balls to leave the park during the season, with a mere 0.66 HR/9 as he also left a solid 74.8percent of runners on base. It will be tough to imagine that he can repeat this type of performance once again as he eclipsed 200 innings for the first time since 2007 and has a career ERA of 4.21. Harang has gone 2-2 (2-3 team record) with a poor 5.08 ERA (1.48 WHIP) when facing the Red Sox and his team has lost each of his past two meetings with them. OF Hanley Ramirez could continue an early surge as hes gone 10-for-29 (.345) against the veteran with five homers and seven RBIs while DH David Ortiz (5-for-11, 3 doubles, 1 HR, six RBIs) has also been great when facing him. On the other hand, 3B Pablo Sandoval (5-for-26, 4 Ks) has not seen the ball well coming out of Harangs hand. Philadelphias bullpen was decent last year, going 26-24 (.520) with a 3.64 ERA (1.28 WHIP) as they were 40-for-56 (.714) in save opportunities. Jonathan Papelbon (2.04 ERA, 39 saves) will be the closer for the Phillies for the fourth straight year and in his time here he is 106-for-121 (88percent) in save chances.
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