Coming off a sweep of the AL East cellar-dwelling Yankees, the first-place Red Sox send Steven Wright to the hill Tuesday as they open a three-game series against the AL Central-leading White Sox in the Windy City. The opener sets up to be a pitchers’ duel, as both Wright and Chicago starter Jose Quintana are ranked in the top four in the American League in ERA, and Quintana has stellar numbers in his career against Boston.
Wright is just 2-2 despite carrying a 1.37 ERA (second best in the AL) and 1.14 WHIP. He had his fourth straight quality outing in his most recent appearance, which resulted in a 9-4 victory over the Braves last Wednesday. Wright pitched seven innings and allowed two runs (one unearned) on three hits, three walks and a hit batsman. He recorded a season-high eight strikeouts.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was impressed by the knuckleballer’s performance.
“I thought we had a pretty good approach early in the game against Wright,” Gonzalez said after the game. “But I’ve never seen a knuckleball go sideways.”
Wright has faced the White Sox just once in his career, recording a win at Fenway Park last July 30 after allowing two runs in seven innings.
One thing to watch defensively is catcher Ryan Hanigan, who has seven passed balls in Wright’s last two outings.
Quintana, 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA (fourth best in the AL) and 1.11 WHIP, is on a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings. The 27-year-old left-hander faced the Blue Jays last Wednesday and went six innings, allowing no runs on five hits and three walks while striking out a season-high 10 batters. The White Sox won the game 4-0.
“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro said after the game. “He was getting ahead of hitters with all of his pitches, fastballs, breaking balls, everything.”
Quintana, a native of Colombia, is in his fifth season in the majors, all spent with the White Sox. He has a career record of 36-35 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He has started against the Red Sox five times, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.14 ERA and 0.832 WHIP. In 33 2/3 innings he’s allowed just 23 hits and five walks while recording 23 strikeouts. He went 1-0 in two starts against Boston last season.
This marks just the third time this season the Red Sox will face a lefty starter.
Red Sox vs. Quintana (LHP)
David Ortiz (12 plate appearances): .167 AVG./.167 OBP/.250 SLG, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 3 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (9): .111/.111/.111, 2 strikeouts
Hanley Ramirez (9): .111/.111/.111, 3 strikeouts
Mookie Betts (6): .333/.333/.500, 1 double, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Xander Bogaerts (6): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout
Jackie Bradley Jr. (6): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI
Brock Holt (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout
Chris Young (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Ryan Hanigan (4): .500/.500/1.000, 2 doubles
Travis Shaw (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI
Josh Rutledge (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout
White Sox vs. Wright (RHP)
Adam Eaton (4 plate appearances): .667 AVG./.750 OBP/.667 SLG, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Brett Lawrie (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout
Tyler Saladino (4): .250/.250/.250, 2 strikeouts
Jose Abreu (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
Melky Cabrera (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Carlos Sanchez is 0-for-3 with 2 strikeouts.