(Photo credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
Only Mother Nature has been able to halt the New York Yankees in Boston this week.
Following another postponement due to persistent rain showers, the Yankees and Boston Red Sox will conclude a four-game set Thursday with their second doubleheader in three days.
Boston College product Michael King (4-5, 2.82 ERA) will start at Fenway Park for the first time in his career during the opener of the twin bill.
It will mark King's fifth straight outing as a starter, a span over which his ERA is 1.08. He completed five innings and allowed only one earned run in each of his past two outings.
"He continues to very much look the part (of a starting pitcher) as he continues to build up more and more," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of King, who has made five starts among his 45 appearances this year.
King struck out nine in a no-decision against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, matching his career high.
"It's little things like (gaining confidence with a changeup) where I feel like I've developed as a pitcher -- to be able to command a pitch that I haven't thrown to these guys and still execute in that third time through," he said.
The 28-year-old's recent run has contributed to the Yankees (73-72) going 11-4 in their past 15 games, allowing them to pull level with the Red Sox (73-72) for fourth place in the American League East.
New York started the series with 3-2 and 4-1 wins in a Tuesday doubleheader.
King is 2-3 with a 5.87 ERA in 11 career appearances against Boston, with his only start among those outings coming in 2021. The Red Sox have tagged him for seven runs across four innings in three appearances this season.
Boston's scheduled Wednesday starter, Tanner Houck (4-9, 5.28 ERA), will oppose King.
Facing another two-game day to complete the set, Boston will be looking for some length out of Houck, who is 2-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 11 career games (six starts) against New York.
A failure for starters to pitch deep in games consistently is a major reason why the Red Sox have fallen from playoff contention.
Boston has dropped six of its past seven games and is now 7 1/2 games back of the final AL wild-card position.
"Everybody talks about the bullpen, but the first six innings are very important because then you don't tax the bullpen," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We ran into it during that 16-game stretch (without an off day). We weren't going deep enough into games and paid the price for a while."
To make matters worse, the Red Sox will be without closer Kenley Jansen for a week. He was placed on the COVID-19 list after exiting Tuesday's second game due to fatigue and illness.
Meanwhile, setup man Chris Martin has thrown 16 consecutive scoreless appearances covering 15 innings.
"We'll see how it goes," Cora said. "Mix and match."
Red Sox slugger Adam Duvall is in an 0-for-19 drought with 14 strikeouts and was out of the posted Wednesday lineup. Among the few plusses for Boston of late were Ceddanne Rafaela's first career homer and Rafael Devers' 30th of the season, both on Tuesday.
New York's Clarke Schmidt (9-8, 4.54 ERA) will finally toe the rubber in the series finale after being scheduled to pitch the original set opener on Monday.
Against the Red Sox, Schmidt has no record and a 2.87 ERA in three starts this season and is 0-1 with a 4.03 ERA in seven appearances (three starts) over his career.
Boston had not announced a Game 2 starter.
--Field Level Media