Dustin Pedroia is optimistic he'll be back in the Boston Red Sox's lineup after a two-game absence, and his teammates are hoping their second baseman can lift their dipping run production.
For that to happen, he'll need to break out of a slump Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox in the second of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.Pedroia, who entered Tuesday's 2-1 loss in Chicago as a pinch runner, expects to return after an MRI revealed no structural damage in his left wrist. He's 3 for 27 and has stranded 17 runners in his last six games. He also has a 2-for-17 lifetime mark against White Sox starter John Danks."Hopefully Pedroia is all right, and we get him back in the lineup just to kind of find our identity and who we are," first baseman Mike Napoli told the team's official website.Napoli, however, might not be in the lineup with him after dislocating his left ring finger Tuesday while sliding into second base in the ninth inning. X-rays were negative and he is considered day to day.While the Red Sox (5-9) have lost four of five and scored 12 runs in that span, the White Sox (8-6) won for the fourth time in five games as Xander Bogaerts' ninth-inning throwing error scored Alexei Ramirez on a Marcus Semien grounder to short to end the game.Ramirez, who has played a key role in a walkoff win in consecutive games, reached on a one-out single to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 14 games. The Chicago shortstop is batting .415 to pace an offense getting on base at a .353 clip, which is among the best in baseball."For the most part all year, we've had really good at-bats," designated hitter Adam Dunn said.Dunn homered with three walks Tuesday and has a .667 on-base percentage in the last four games. He's reached base in all 11 games he's played in.Chicago now turns to Danks (1-0, 4.15 ERA) as it goes for a third straight win. The left-hander has been consistent through two starts, earning a 7-3 win Thursday as he yielded three runs on six hits in six innings against Cleveland. After allowing three runs in three innings, he felt like he settled in."I feel like third inning on, I was able to throw the ball where I wanted to," Danks told the team's official website. "I kept it down a little better, was getting some ground balls. It was kind of a tale of two games, but like I said, I've never had a bad win."He's struggled at home against Boston, going 1-4 with a 6.11 ERA in five career starts.Clay Buchholz will try to right things for Boston. After getting lit up in his first start, Buchholz (0-1, 6.97 ERA) started to reign it in Thursday against the Yankees but took the loss while allowing four runs -- two earned -- on seven hits in six innings."With my arm strength and everything, it got a lot better within a five-day span," Buchholz told the team's official website after his last start. "Usually, it doesn't happen that quick. I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight. I've got to minimize the damage a little bit more in a couple of spots. Other than that I felt like I threw the ball pretty well."He's 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field.Boston closer Koji Uehara's MRI on his right shoulder also checked out OK, and he could be available Thursday.
Alexei Ramirez is hitting .529 in at-bats ending with a pitch up in the zone or above this season, the fifth-highest rate in MLB. Clay Buchholz has allowed four hits on pitches up in the zone so far this year, but two of those hits were home runs.