By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The 13-2 Red Sox and their blazing hot offense will see what they can do against one of the hottest names in baseball as the team starts a nine-game road trip in against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday night.
Boston’s road trip begins with three against the 13-3 Angels, a clash between two of baseball’s best pitching staffs. And if that isn’t enough, it’s also a matchup between two of the league’s best offenses. Not too shabby for a mid-April series.
Thanks to Sunday’s Royals-Angels game being postponed due to cold weather, the Red Sox get to see what Shohei Ohtani can do on the mound on Tuesday. The two-way Japanese export has lived up to all the hype from the offseason, bringing his blazing fastball, devastating splitter and sharp slider stateside. He’s coming off a 12-strikeout showing where he tossed seven shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics. His only other start was also against the A’s, when he allowed three runs in his debut as a pitcher. On Tuesday, Ohtani will get his first look at a capable Major League offense.
Boston’s 89 runs scored is second only to the Angels’ 103 (in 16 games) for the most in MLB. They’ve been crushing the ball as of late, and that was in the cold weather of Boston. Their big bats are starting to launch the ball, as Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez both have three homers on the season. Four of those six homers have come in the last five games.
Two potent offenses will go head-to-head with two talented pitching staffs in the upcoming three game set. Here’s a look at the series ahead for Boston:
Tuesday, 10:07 p.m.: David Price (1-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Shohei Ohtani (2-0, 2.08 ERA)
Price will take the hill for the first time since leaving his previous start after just one, ineffective inning against the Yankees. He left with a “sensation” in his left hand caused by the frigid conditions at Fenway Park, but won’t have to worry about any chills on Tuesday. He does have a pretty powerful offense to deal with though, headlined by Mike Trout, Justin Upton and an always-dangerous Albert Pujols.
As for how L.A.’s big bats fare against Price, Trout is just 3-for-21 in his career against the lefty with 10 strikeouts. Upton had two hits in his three at-bats against Price, including a homer. Pujols has had the most success against Price with nine hits in 29 at-bats, including a pair of doubles and two homers.
Price had an incredible start to the season with 14 shutout innings against the Rays over his first two starts, but was tagged for four runs before bowing out against the Yankees. How he bounces back against one of baseball’s best lineups is important, even this early in the season.
Wednesday, 10:07 p.m.: Rick Porcello (3-0, 1.83 ERA) vs. Tyler Skaggs (2-0, 1.69 ERA)
Porcello looks more like his Cy Young form of 2016 and is coming off his best start yet: seven shutout innings with six strikeouts against the Yankees. But some of the Angels’ big bats do have success against the righty. Trout is hitting just .241 against Porcello but two of his seven hits off him left the yard. Ian Kinsler is 9-for-20 against Porcello in his career, and Pujols is hitting .346 with a homer in his career against Porcello.
Skaggs, a 26-year-old lefty, has only allowed three runs over his first three starts of the season. But after going six shutout innings in his first start, he didn’t make it out of the fifth against the Cleveland Indians, allowing two runs over 4.2 innings. He only went five his last time out, needing 114 pitches, but held the Texas Rangers to one run off five hits while striking out seven.
Hanley has the most experience of any Sox hitters against Skaggs, going 3-for-5 with a double and homer against the lefty.
Thursday, 10:07 p.m.: Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Rodriguez struggled in his 2018 debut but looked strong his last time out, firing six innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. It helped that his offense scored four runs in the bottom of the first (after Rodriguez gave up a run in the top of the inning), but he showed some poise by striking out Chris Davis looking with a pair of runners on to get out of a jam and end his outing.
Rodriguez may have to deal with Ohtani in the Angels lineup, who as a DH, is hitting .367 (11-for-30) with three homers, a double, a triple and 11 RBIs.