The Boston Red Sox will try to complete a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels when the two teams meet Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.
The Angels scored only three runs in the first two games combined, and one Angels player in particular who has struggled at the plate lately is second baseman David Fletcher.
Fletcher had been the Angels’ leadoff hitter in every game he played until Saturday, when manager Joe Maddon moved him down to the No. 9 spot. Fletcher went into Saturday’s game hitless in 13 at-bats, and he extended the streak to 17 at-bats after going 0 for 4 in Saturday’s 9-0 loss.
Maddon said the move is temporary, but Fletcher will be in the ninth spot for the time being. Right fielder Taylor Ward batted leadoff on Saturday.
“I think he’s so unselfish at the top of the order, he tries to play for the rest of the team, and I’d rather him go and be a little bit selfish right now,” Maddon said. “Go ahead and hit. I have so much respect for his game, and this is a way for him to be more aggressive at the plate.
“I want him just to go and hit. Just get his stroke back.”
Fletcher is hitting .250 with a .271 on-base percentage for the season and leads the team with 168 plate appearances.
Left-hander Jose Quintana (0-3, 9.00 ERA) will make his seventh start of the season for the Angels. He’s coming off one of his better starts of the season last Sunday against the Dodgers, when he gave up one run and two hits. But he lasted just four innings, walking five hitters and making 97 pitches.
He is 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in eight career starts vs. Boston.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 4.20 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season for the Red Sox. He’s coming off an impressive performance last Tuesday against Oakland, in which he gave up one run and two hits in six innings, getting a no-decision in an eventual 3-2 loss.
Boston center fielder Alex Verdugo entered Saturday’s game hitless in 14 at-bats but ended the streak with a home run in the first inning. He finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs scored, but he will not be in the starting lineup Sunday.
“I don’t (want) to say (Verdugo has been) pull happy because he never tries to pull the ball, but it seems like he’s getting beat with fastballs inside, and changeups he’s rolling over,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
“He’s been playing a lot, too. (Sunday) we’ll give him off and Monday (is an off day for the team), and he’ll be ready for Tuesday. But I think it’s part of the grind,” Cora said.
–Field Level Media