With the MLB All-Star break approaching in two weeks, a crucial stretch of games stands ahead for the Boston Red Sox
After dropping a three-game set to one of the worst teams in the American League in the Chicago White Sox, Boston returns home for a three-game interleague series with the Miami Marlins beginning Tuesday night
The series begins a stretch of nine straight games for Boston against teams currently in playoff position. The Red Sox had won six straight before dropping four of five games, including Sunday's 4-1 series finale in Chicago
"It's just baseball. That's the way it works," Boston infielder Justin Turner said. "You can go out there and beat up on really good pitchers and sometimes pitchers that on paper that you're supposed to beat up pitch really well. ... We had a winning streak going but can't take anything for granted."
Turner has reached base multiple times in nine of his past 15 games.
In Sunday's game, the Red Sox managed just two hits after the third inning. Outfielder Adam Duvall had two of the team's five hits
"There's a lot of good teams out there," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We've just got to play good baseball.
The Marlins are one of those strong clubs, entering Monday with the third-best record in the National League. Garrett Whitlock (4-2, 4.50 ERA) will be the first Boston starter to face them in the series
Whitlock, who has never started against Miami, has worked seven innings in back-to-back starts but took a no-decision after allowing four runs on eight hits and striking out six last Wednesday at Minnesota. His past three decisions dating back a month have been wins.
In the series opener, the Red Sox will be up against a tough starter in reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara (2-6, 5.08)
Alcantara will look to follow up yet another impressive performance by 20-year-old rookie Eury Perez, who struck out nine and extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 21 in Sunday's 2-0 win over Pittsburgh.
Miami has 16 wins during the month of June, including three of the past four games.
"It's been a lot of fun. Winning is fun," Perez said. "So we've got to continue winning a lot of games. Our next step is the playoffs. That will be the next step. (I) want to stay healthy so I can continue competing with all my teammates and win more games."
Leading the way offensively, second baseman Luis Arraez enters the series with a .399 average, falling below the .400 mark after back-to-back one-hit games. He has not struck out since June 14.
Despite Alcantara's overall struggles, he has pitched at least seven innings in three of his past four outings and six in total this season.
However, he has given up five runs and 10 hits in each of his two most recent games. All five runs in his start against Toronto last Wednesday came in the second inning.
"I'm going to bet on Sandy. Our clubhouse is going to bet on Sandy," Miami manager Skip Schumaker said. "Obviously, we need him to be that version (from the end of the game) moving forward if we want to get to where we want to get to."
Alcantara's only career start against Boston was on Sept. 15, 2020, working six innings of one-run ball.
--Field Level Media