Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: RF Mookie Betts (.339 with 20 HR, 41 RBIs); DH J.D. Martinez (.324 with 25 HR, 100 hits); 3B Rafael Devers (78 hits, 47 RBIs); LF Andrew Benintendi (.284 with 20 2B, 53 RBIs); LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3, 4.11 ERA); RHP Rick Porcello (9-3, 3.60 ERA); RHP Craig Kimbrel (2.16 ERA, 24 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (2-1 in 2015)
July 2: RHP Rick Porcello (9-3) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (10-4); 7:00 p.m., MASN
July 3: TBD vs. RHP Tanner Roark (3-9); 6:05 p.m., MASN
July 4: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3) vs. RHP Erick Fedde (1-3); 11:05 a.m., MASN
Inside the Red Sox:
When the Nationals hosted the Yankees on May 15, many hypothesized that it could represent a potential World Series preview. Now, as the Red Sox head into our nation's capital to face the Nats for a three-game series, the idea of another Fall Classic lookahead is too good to resist. While Washington is still fighting to get atop its division, Boston has been fighting tooth and nail all year long for the top spot in the American League East. It's difficult to imagine a team as loaded as the Red Sox possibly being only a wild card entry, but with the Yankees right on their heels, anything is possible.
Let's start with the majors' best offense. Entering Sunday's action, Boston ranked first in team batting average (.267), slugging percentage (.459), hits (782) and runs scored (438). This balanced attack is led by a pair of emerging superstars in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Betts' .341 average led all hitters entering Sunday, while Martinez' 25 home runs and 67 RBIs were, you guessed it, tops in all of baseball. Traveling to Washington means Boston will lose its designated hitter slot, so look for Martinez to join Betts in the Red Sox outfield. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi is enjoying a stellar second full season in Boston. The 23-year-old is hitting .285 with 53 RBIs, and is second on the team with 88 hits. Keep your eye on third baseman Rafael Devers, too. Despite a slow start to the season, Devers is hitting .349 over the past two weeks, highlighted by a 5-for-5 performance Saturday against the Yankees.
After nearly 10 years and 300 starts in the majors, Rick Porcello will face the Nationals for just the second time in tonight's series opener. Porcello's tied for the team-lead in wins with nine, and has won three of his past four decisions, but he struggled in his last start, giving up four earned runs on eight hits against the Angels. While the team hasn't named a starter for Tuesday's game, it'll be Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound for the holiday matinee start. Rodriguez raced out to a tremendous start, posting a 9-1 record and stingy 3.51 ERA. Back-to-back losses, however, have inflated his ERA above four, and he'll look to get back on track opposite Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde.
Nats fans will surely recognize reliever Craig Kimbrel. The Red Sox closer began his career with the Braves, posting 186 saves over five seasons. Since joining Boston two years ago, Kimbrel has amassed 90 saves and a 2.26 ERA. Joining him in the bullpen are relievers Hector VelÃ¡zquez, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly.