Zack Wheeler, Phillies look to end Red Sox win streak

MLB Baseball

The surging Boston Red Sox will look for their fifth consecutive victory when they complete a three-game weekend series against the host Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

After winning two straight against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox now have a chance to sweep the Phillies.

The task will be difficult against right-hander Zack Wheeler, arguably the Phillies’ ace.

“I think we want to face the best. You can prove yourself when you face the best,” Christian Vazquez said. “It’s fun to face those guys because you know they have great stuff and you prove yourself there.”

The Red Sox will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound. Rodriguez is 5-2 with a 4.70 earned run average in eight starts. For Rodriguez’s career against the Phillies, he’s 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two starts totaling 13 2/3 innings.

Rafael Devers hit an RBI double in Saturday’s 4-3 win as he continued to shine against the Phillies. Devers already has posted 12 home runs and 38 RBIs this season, good enough for a potential first career All-Star berth.

“Yeah, obviously if they select me, it’s great but if they don’t, then you know, that’s, that’s fine, too,” Devers said through an interpreter. “I’m just out there trying to be the best version of myself and trying to win ballgames. You know, obviously, if I do get that invite, it’s a great accomplishment, but not something that I’m really focused on.”

Alex Verdugo had three hits in Friday’s game but left with hamstring tightness and sat out Saturday. It doesn’t appear as if he’ll be available to play in the series finale.

“As you know we have an extra position player, but most likely we’ll stay away from him over the weekend and get him ready for next week,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

The Phillies will turn to Wheeler to try and salvage the finale and snap a four-game losing streak.

Wheeler (3-2, 2.52 ERA) will be starting for the 10th time and he’s 2-0 with a 1.70 ERA over his last five starts. This will be Wheeler’s first career start against the Red Sox.

For the Phillies to win, they’ll likely need production from Bryce Harper, who’s mired in a maddening slump. Harper went 0-for-5 on Saturday and has two hits in his last 25 at-bats.

Harper has struggled with injuries, including a sore shoulder, wrist and recovering after being hit in the face by Genesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We’ve seen a ton of left-handers. I mean, a ton,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I know he’s hit left-handers in his career but obviously his numbers are a little bit better against right-handers in his career. He’s off. He’s went through this before. He’ll get it back. He’ll get hot again and he’ll do a lot of great things. But right now, he’s off.”

When asked about the litany of injuries, Harper didn’t mince words.

“There are certain pitches that grab me, certain ones that don’t,” Harper said about the pain. “I just have to lay off the ones that hurt, and hit the ones that don’t hurt.”

J.T. Realmuto (hand) and Didi Gregorius (elbow) remain on the injured list, and Alec Bohm is hitting .224 after a stellar rookie season.

“He’s going to come out of it. We look at a lot of different things,” Girardi said of Bohm. “He’s hitting the ball harder this year, swing-and-miss (rate) is the same, other things are the same. It’s not like he’s not hitting the ball hard. He really hasn’t had much luck.”

–Field Level Media

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