Red Sox-Twins Preview
The right-hander hopes to avoid dropping a fourth straight start while trying to help the visiting Red Sox to their fifth win in a row Sunday against the slumping Minnesota Twins.
David Ortiz homered twice and drove in six runs as Boston (26-17) rolled to a 12-5 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. The Red Sox have scored 28 runs during a four-game winning streak that's followed a 2-9 stretch.
Ortiz hit .143 (4 for 28) in his previous seven games before going 6 for 8 in the first two of this set. He's batting .332 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs in 53 games against his former club, which released him in 2002.
He's 19 for 38 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 10 games at Target Field, where Boston has won five straight and eight of 11.
"The one guy we say don't let beat us is David Ortiz,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They've got a lot of really good hitters over there, but we told them to stay away from this guy, don't give in to him. And he keeps sending souvenirs.''
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia is batting .475 during a 10-game hitting streak.
Lackey (1-4, 4.05 ERA) has mostly pitched well but lost for the third consecutive outing Tuesday, 5-3 to Tampa Bay. He gave up five runs in the fourth inning and departed after getting one out in the fifth.
"I really thought I pitched better than what's going to show,'' said Lackey, who posted a 2.82 ERA in his first four starts.
The right-hander has gone 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in his last five starts versus the Twins, the most recent a 5-3 loss in which he allowed five runs - one earned - in seven innings May 9.
Minnesota (18-21) could have a tough time avoiding a season-high fifth consecutive defeat if Pedro Hernandez (2-0, 5.79) can't find a way to end his struggles against the Red Sox.
The left-hander has given up 14 runs and 19 hits - five homers - in six innings while going 0-1 in two starts versus Boston. He allowed a grand slam to Jonny Gomes and six runs in two innings of a 15-8 win at Fenway Park on May 8.
In his next start, Hernandez gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
Five Twins had two hits Saturday, but they stranded 13 runners.
"We've been able to score some runs," Gardenhire told the team's official website. "We've seen that, but we've been inconsistent. Hopefully we can get everyone clicking."
Joe Mauer had two hits in his return after missing Friday's game with a stiff back. The star catcher is batting .443 during a 15-game hitting streak but has also struck out 20 times in 61 at-bats in that span.
He's hitting .407 (11 for 27) with two home runs against Lackey.