Despite having lost the first two games of their series against the Cubs, the Red Sox could accomplish something Wednesday night at Fenway Park that hasn't been done by an American League team since 1967.
Should Boston's pitching staff limit Chicago to three runs or less, it would mark the first time in nearly half a century that an AL team held opponents under four runs in 15 consecutive home games. The White Sox did it from their last home game in 1966 through their first 14 home contests in '67.
The Red Sox have pitched extremely well at home all season, owning the third-lowest home ERA in the league at 3.25. The problem for Boston has been the inability to provide the pitching staff much run support, scoring once in the first two games against Chicago combined and continuing to rank last in the AL in runs scored, with 312.
While the Red Sox hope to see their bats come alive on Wednesday, they also hope right-hander Brandon Workman will keep the pitching trend going as Boston looks to make a move in the AL East with the All-Star break approaching.
Workman began the season as a reliever and was inserted into the starting rotation when left-hander Felix Doubront was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. In his second big league season, the 25-year-old Workman has been much better as a starter, posting a 3.21 ERA in nine career starts versus a 5.76 ERA in 20 relief appearances. Since starting for Doubront on May 25, Workman is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in six starts this season.
On Friday night, Workman pitched well against the Yankees in New York, outside of a rocky fourth inning in which he gave up back-to-back homers to Kelly Johnson and Brett Gardner.
"Little bit of a grind the whole time," Workman said after the game, in which he went seven innings and allowed four runs on seven hits. "I was constantly pitching with guys on, stuff like that, but I was able to pitch out of some situations. But they tagged me for a couple homers. That hurt."
Trying for a sweep, the Cubs will to give the ball to Travis Wood. The southpaw finished a breakout 2013 campaign with 24 quality starts, tied for fourth in the National League, including nine in a row to start the season.
This season, however, Wood has had trouble finding that type of consistency. The left-hander has nine quality starts in 16 outings so far, and his 4.52 ERA is 1.41 runs higher than his ERA in 2013.
Though the Cubs won Wood's last start, 5-3, over the Nationals at Wrigley Field last Thursday, Wood walked a season-high-tying five batters while giving up three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings.
"Walks, in general, for me are disappointing," Wood said after the outing. "To walk a couple and miss with a pitch and allow them to get back in the ballgame, it can't happen."
Cubs: Lake will continue to get opportunities despite recent struggles
Outfielder Junior Lake wasn't in the starting lineup for the Cubs' 2-1 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night, entering the game in the seventh inning and going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.
After hitting .284 with 16 doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs in 64 games last season, Lake is batting .228 with 10 doubles, nine homers and 25 RBIs so far in 2014. He's also struck out 87 times in 73 games.
But despite Lake's recent struggles at the plate, manager Rick Renteria still intends to get him playing time.
"We just have to make sure Junior gets the ball up in the zone a little bit," Renteria said before Tuesday's game. "[On Monday], he had four strikeouts and three of the four were balls down in the zone. It's just a matter of us making sure we stay positive with him and share with him what we're seeing and try to get feedback from him on what he sees.
"We'll just continue to do what we've been doing the whole season and picking and choosing and working and trying to make adjustments."
Red Sox: Farrell sees improvement in Nava
Manager John Farrell said on Tuesday that despite Daniel Nava's struggles at the plate this season, which resulted in him being sent to Triple-A Pawtucket in late April, there have been signs of improvement since he was recalled on May 24.
Nava had a strong 2013 campaign, in which he hit .303 with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 66 RBIs, along with an OPS of .831. But so far this season, he's hitting .213 with two homers and five RBIs in 141 at-bats.
"I think since he's come back to us, there has been an adjustment physically in his stance and his setup at the plate, which has been a positive one," Farrell said on Tuesday. "There's been games where he's been in the midst of our offensive production. But I think more importantly, he's in a better place just from a swing standpoint and more similar to a year ago."
• Despite losing their last two games at home, the Red Sox have won 10 of their last 14 contests at Fenway Park.
• Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Cubs was Boston's AL-leading 32nd one-run game this season. The Red Sox are 14-18 in games decided by a run, and 11 of their last 17 games have been one-run affairs.
• The Cubs are 18-13 since May 31.
• In his last 27 games, shortstop Starlin Castro is batting .327 (34-for-104) with 12 doubles, four homers and 21 RBIs.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.