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The Red Sox road trip was a quick three-game set in Philadelphia and they return home this week for more interleague play, with the Marlins and Braves. The Marlins jumped out of the gates quickly, but have stumbled recently and will probably hold another midsummer fire-sale, similar to the deal that netted the Red Sox Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, though they came in the off-season version of the move that cost the Red Sox Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.
The most memorable Red Sox-Marlins game in their brief history was probably the 25-8 Red Sox win in 2003, which saw 14 first inning runs for the Red Sox in their 28-hit assault. Byung-Hyun Kim beat Carl Pavano and Johnny Damon had five hits for the Red Sox, who only hit three home runs to reach 25 total runs.
Now, back to this series. Tim Wakefield will oppose Chris Volstad (4-6, 4.07 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 59 K), one of the Marlins’ young pitchers, who they believe has big star potential. Brad Penny will face Andrew Miller (2-2, 4.30, 1.50, 37) and Jon Lester matches up with Ricky Nolasco (2-6, 7.62, 1.73, 50), who at age 26 is the oldest starter in the rotation. He was recently recalled from a minor league stint after a tough start to the season, but has allowed only four runs in 13 innings since his return to the majors.
The always cash-strapped Fish are young all over the field and perennially seem to be building for the future, but the kids on the pitching staff are leading the majors in strikeouts with 501 (the Sox are second with 493). Ramirez is their offensive leader with a .330 batting average, 20 2B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 38 R, and 9 SB, despite being off to a slow start and rumors he was not putting forth the proper effort.
Dan Uggla leads the team with 11 home runs, but his .218 average is lowest on the team among regulars. Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, and Jeremy Hermida also have some pop on a team with a balanced, though unspectacular, offense.
The Marlins, playing in Fenway, will also have to come up with a ninth bat in the lineup, and with a team not offensively deep, is an overlooked advantage for the Red Sox. The Marlins will be very overmatched in this series and the Red Sox should get the sweep and build that AL East lead.