After day off, Braves to play two
Atlanta (25-16) at Boston (28-12), 1:05 and 7:35 p.m. ET
John Smoltz will test his injured right pinky against one of the game's most potent lineups and the Braves will look to find success in their first encounter against Daisuke Matsuzaka. These are the story lines that await the Braves and Red Sox during Saturday's split doubleheader at Fenway Park.
Originally, Smoltz and Matsuzaka were scheduled to face each other on Saturday. But with rain postponing Friday's series opener, their matchup was erased. Instead, the Braves will send Anthony Lerew to the mound in the afternoon game to face Matsuzaka, the 26-year-old Japanese sensation, who came to Boston this winter at a cost of $103 million.
"He's another pitcher for us," Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "Obviously it will be neat to face him because of all the hype he has gotten up here. But for us, we just look at it as we've got two games to play tomorrow."
The Braves are looking forward to getting back on the field to erase the frustrations that were created while losing three of four to the Nationals this week. As for the Red Sox, they have won eight of their past 10 and own the Major League's best record.
Smoltz dislocated his pinky in the sixth inning of Monday night's 2-1 loss to the Nationals. By the next day, he was looking forward to the challenge of facing Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and the rest of the Red Sox lineup.
"I want to continue the roll that I'm on and keep making pitches," Smoltz said. "I like the rate at which we will win games if I continue to do that."
ATL: RHP Anthony Lerew (0-1, 6.52 ERA)
Lerew threw 38 of his 74 pitches for strikes and allowed five earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon. The easily excitable right-hander will have to handle his emotions while pitching in front of a packed house at Fenway Park. His first Major League start came May 8, when he limited the Padres to two runs over six innings. If he's able to consistently get ahead in the count, his sinker can be a valuable weapon. BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-2, 4.17 ERA)
In his past two starts, Matsuzaka has thrown 16 innings, allowing just two runs, 11 hits and three walks. Game 2
ATL: RHP John Smoltz (5-2, 3.19 ERA)
In nine career appearances against the Red Sox, he's worked 24 2/3 innings and allowed just three earned runs. Each of those were accounted for last year when he provided a strong seven-inning effort against them. Before Monday's loss, he had won four straight decisions and three straight starts. BOS: RHP Devern Hansack (0-0, 13.50 ERA)
Hansack impressed the Red Sox last season after a September callup, pitching five inning's of no-hit ball in the rain-shortened finale of the regular season.
Players to watch
J.D. Drew and Ramirez both homered off Smoltz last year.
Official game notes On television
SS (both games) On radio
WGST, 94.9 FM Up next
Sunday: Braves (Tim Hudson, 5-1, 1.77) at Red Sox (TBA), 2:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Mets (Jorge Sosa, 3-0, 2.25) at Braves (Kyle Davies, 1-2, 5.17), 7:35 p.m. ET
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.