After an emotion-filled roller coaster weekend of ups and downs, the Boston Red Sox will look to bounce back from a disappointing day-night doubleheader in which the Kansas City Royals swept them with two come-from-behind wins.
On Monday the Red Sox will welcome the defending A.L. West champion Oakland Athletics to Fenway Park for game one of a three-game set, treating the fans to a rare 6:35 PM EDT start.
After losing leads in each of Sunday’s two games, the Red Sox will turn to left-hander Felix Doubront to right the ship. Doubront (1-0, 4.50 ERA) has been good in both of his 2013 starts, but high pitch counts have forced him to exit early in each of them. The hard-throwing 25-year-old has 13 strikeouts in 10 innings, coming off a season in which he struck out 167 batters.
The Athletics are also looking to get back on track, having been swept over the weekend by the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series. Oakland will send its own 25-year-old to the mound on Monday, as right-hander A.J. Griffin makes his fourth start of the season.
Griffin has been superb thus far in April, boasting a 2-0 record and a 2.25 ERA. He recorded a no-decision in his last start, going six innings and allowing just two runs to the Houston Astros. Griffin was 7-1 last season, and his early 2013 results prove that it was no fluke.
The Red Sox sit atop the A.L. East with a 12-6 record, while the A’s are 12-7, just 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers in the West. For a mid-April matchup, this series is just about as important as it gets—for both teams.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)