Red Sox need adrenaline boost


• 2:20 p.m. ET: Mark Prior takes the mound for the Cubs in what will be a closely watched start. In his last game, Prior threw 126 pitches against the White Sox, recording a complete game despite an eight-inning pitch count of 107. If Prior gets knocked around Friday or looks uncomfortable and worn down, manager Dusty Baker will be criticized for Prior's pitch count last time out.

• 7:05 p.m. ET: There were a few minutes on Thursday when it appeared the Red Sox and Yankees might open their weekend series as the No. 4 and No. 3 teams in the AL East standings. But the Yankees are tied for second, having won 15 of 17, and the Red Sox are reeling, having been swept in Toronto. There will be a lot of focus on Randy Johnson's velocity Friday night when he throws against Tim Wakefield.

• 7:35 p.m. ET: Erik Bedard is down, and the Orioles need Sidney Ponson to be a leader. He takes the mound Friday night against the Tigers' Nate Robertson.

• 7:35 p.m. ET: The Mets are in Florida, with Pedro Martinez throwing against the Marlins' Brian Moehler. David Wright is swinging the bat well, so let's make him The Most Likely Guy To Go Deep.

• 8:05 p.m. ET: The Best Pitching Matchup of the Night pits Roy Oswalt of the Astros against Doug Davis of the Brewers. Houston is looking for its fourth road victory of the year.

• 8:05 p.m. ET: A fascinating battle of two young guns in Texas, where Chicago's Brandon McCarthy is set to throw against the Rangers' Chris Young.

• 10:15 p.m. ET: The Giants took three of four from the Dodgers, and now they host the Padres. The Giants have done well in taking advantage of bad teams this year, compiling most of their victories against the likes of the Rockies and Athletics and the recently slumping Dodgers. The Padres come into town playing well.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Thursday
The Good
Jake Peavy threw the first complete game of his career in fine style: two hits, no walks, no runs, two strikeouts. And the Padres moved back into first place.

The Bad
On Wednesday, Houston picked up its third road win of the entire season at Wrigley Field. Then, on Thursday, Colorado went into Chicago and picked up only its fourth road win of the year. The Cubs must be mortified.

The Ugly
Johnny Damon had it right on Wednesday night when he said the Red Sox are simply a bad team right now. They've gotten only three quality starts in their last 11 games, and inconsistent offense from Manny Ramirez and other members of the lineup. Wade Miller looked terrible Thursday – at a time when the Red Sox don't know when Curt Schilling is coming back. Maybe playing the Yankees will provide the adrenaline the Sox need.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is available in paperback and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.