Friday's series opener in Boston between the Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers began with a lot of pomp and circumstance as World Series rings were handed out to the champions. A packed Fenway Park then cheered their Red Sox after rallying from a 2-0 hole to tie the game.
The good vibes didn't last, however, as Milwaukee came through with a big ninth inning to spoil Boston's ring ceremony with a 6-2 decision.
The Red Sox now look to even the match when a couple of hurlers make their 2014 debuts under the lights Saturday. Wily Peralta is next in line for Ron Roenicke and the Brewers who will be opposed by Clay Buchholz in the 7:10 PM (ET) start. Boston opened as pronounced chalk on the baseball betting board, and remains in the -180 to -185 range following overnight action. Scoreboard bettors are looking at an 8.5 run total that is holding steady on SBR's live MLB odds.
These teams have been meeting since 1969 when the Brewers were known as the Seattle Pilots, but this is just the fourth interleague matchup. The Red Sox won seven of the first nine AL-NL battles before Friday's loss, and now stand 5-2 in Beantown. Game 1 fell just short of an 8½ run total; the 'over' had cashed four of the previous five at Fenway Park.
Thumb Injury Could Limit Braun To DH Duties This Weekend
Milwaukee (2-2, -0.1 unit) saw its quick 2-zip lead erased Friday afternoon, but the bullpen came to the rescue to toss 3.1 innings of shutout baseball to keep the powerful Red Sox lineup at bay. Lyle Overbay's 2-run double ignited a 4-run ninth for the Brewers, all of the runs charged to Boston reliever Edward Mujica.
Ryan Braun went 0-for-5 as Milwaukee's designated hitter, and might not play the field in this series. The slugger is dealing with a sore right thumb which troubles him more throwing than hitting, the same ailment that landed him on the DL last season before he was hit with a season-ending suspension.
Peralta will be facing the Red Sox for the first time in his career, and was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in four interleague starts a year ago. He posted a 4.32 ERA in five spring starts plus a relief appearance, along with a 1.26 WHIP in 25+ innings.
BoSox Struggling To Deliver Key Hits
Boston (2-2, -0.5) stranded 12 runners while going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in its season-opening loss at Baltimore, and the same problems came up again Friday when the Red Sox stranded five and failed to get a hit in six scoring position situations. Five games into the campaign, they're hitting .097 (3-31) in the RISP column.
Buchholz is coming off yet another injury-marred campaign. When he was able to pitch in 2013, the Texas native was brilliant with a 1.74 ERA and 12-1 record in 16 starts (Red Sox 14-2). He was out most of June plus all of July and August, but made it back in September and started four postseason contests, three of them Boston victories.
This is his first career matchup vs. the Brewers, and Buchholz's only interleague start in 2013 came in Game 4 of the World Series, a 4-2 Boston triumph. He appeared in five games this spring, all as a starter, limiting hitters to a .194 average in 19 frames while posting an impressive 0.95 WHIP.
It's going to be a chilly, but dry, evening in Boston where a first-pitch temp of 46º is in the forecast along with 15-20 mph winds from the west (out to right). Neither offense is generating any fireworks right now, but I'm looking for runs tonight with my free MLB pick.
My pick: Brewers-Red Sox Over 8½ (-115)
Season: 4-3 (+0.90)