The Boston Red Sox are coming off a stellar June, but the Chicago Cubs also have played pretty well of late.
Looking to beat the visiting Red Sox for a second straight contest, the Cubs also can match a season high with their fourth consecutive victory on Saturday night.
Boston went 20-6 in June, and jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Friday during its first trip to Wrigley Field since 2012. However, the Cubs, featuring four rookies in their starting lineup, battled back to win 6-5. One of those rookies, Christopher Morel, homered for a third consecutive game, with a man on, to highlight a go-ahead, three-run sixth for Chicago.
The Cubs have won three in a row and six of nine. They have totaled 29 runs, 21 extra-base hits and batted .349 during their three-game winning streak.
“Every little thing that goes right, every learning moment, every teachable moment. It’s trying to capitalize on those,” outfielder Ian Happ told the Cubs’ official website.
While the veteran Happ is 6-for-10 in the past three games, Morel has gone 8-for-14 with the three homers and seven RBIs in those three. Meanwhile, fellow rookie P.J. Higgins is 5-for-10 in his past three contests.
“It’s about celebrating those little victories,” Happ added. “Celebrate guys coming up. … Individual performances.”
Boston, meanwhile, has allowed 24 runs while dropping three of four following a seven-game winning streak during which it gave up 20. The Red Sox bats went relatively silent after leading 4-0 through two innings Friday, and a pitching staff that posted a 3.02 ERA in June, allowed a season-high 10 walks in this series opener.
Looking to get back on track, the Red Sox turn to rookie Josh Winckowski (3-1, 3.60 ERA), who has allowed four runs, 17 hits and three walks over 17 innings to win three straight starts. That followed his May 28 major league debut, when the right-hander yielded four runs, six hits and three walks in three innings of a 4-2 loss to Baltimore.
He has never faced the Cubs.
“I feel pretty good,” Winckowski, who turned 24 this week, told the Red Sox’s official website after he allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-2 victory at Cleveland last weekend.
“I finally got to show all my pitches, and threw the cutter more. I’m a guy that’s going to roll the ball over a bunch — I’ve been able to do that lately.”
Chicago will counter with Alec Mills (0-1, 9.87 ERA), who will look for this start to go better than his first of 2022 — on Sunday at St. Louis. The right-hander, who missed the first two months of the season with a lower-back issue, allowed five runs and six hits, including three solo homers, in just 2 2/3 innings, but was bailed out after the Cubs rallied for a 6-5, 10-inning victory.
Mills has faced the Red Sox just once, giving up one run in 2/3 of an inning in a game in May 2016 when he pitched for the Kansas City Royals.
Boston’s Alex Verdugo went 1-for-4 on Friday but that was enough to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he’s batting .395 with 10 RBIs. Teammate Jarren Duran, who homered on the first pitch of Friday’s game, is 8-for-15 with three RBIs in his past three games.
–Field Level Media