Tuesday’s wild card matchup preview

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With the AL wild card all knotted up and still just one game separating the Braves and Cardinals in the NL, here’s what we have to look forward to on Tuesday night.

AL wild card

Boston – Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50 ERA)
Baltimore – Zach Britton (11-10, 4.44 ERA)

New York – Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02 ERA)
Tampa Bay – Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90 ERA)

The Red Sox and Rays are all tied after Boston lost 6-3 and Tampa Bay won 5-2 tonight.

Bedard makes his second start since returning from knee and hip problems; he allowed four runs — one earned — in 2 2/3 innings against Baltimore last week. The Red Sox get to face a rookie they’ve handled very well so far; Britton is 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA and a 3/4 K/BB ratio in 6 2/3 innings in his two starts against the club. He has a 5.14 ERA in five September starts.

The Rays also have a favorable matchup, it would seem. Colon is winless since July and has a 6.64 ERA in four starts this month. He’s also 0-3 with a 6.60 ERA in three starts against Baltimore this year. Hellickson has a 2.28 ERA this month and a 2.50 ERA since the All-Star break. Plus, he faced the Yankees last week and allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

NL wild card

Philadelphia – Roy Oswalt (8-10, 3.86 ERA)
Atlanta – Derek Lowe (9-16, 4.92 ERA)

St. Louis – Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.48 ERA)
Houston – Henry Sosa (3-5, 4.68 ERA)

Ideally, the Braves would wrap this one up Tuesday so that they wouldn’t have to send ace Tim Hudson to the mound on Wednesday.  For it to happen, Lowe will have to snap a skid that has seen him lose four straight.  His quality start last week against the Marlins (3 ER in 6 1/3 IP) was his first since Aug. 31. Oswalt was shaky in his last start, giving up six runs in 7 2/3 innings against the Nationals.  He’ll likely only throw five or six innings in this one. Oswalt is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Braves this year, while Lowe is 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA in four starts versus the Phillies.

Of course, with a one-game lead, the Braves would need a win and a Cardinals loss to clinch. Westbrook will have something to say about that. He’s beaten the Astros both times he’s faced them this year, and he has a 2.61 ERA in four starts this month. Sosa will be making his first start against St. Louis since debuting last month. A product of the Jeff Keppinger deal, he’s turned in quality starts five of his last six times out. However, he’s also given up five homers in his last three starts.

Red Sox end Astros’ 10-game winning streak

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The Red Sox salvaged the final game of their three-game home series against the Astros, winning 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. In doing so, they ended the Astros’ 10-game winning streak.

Xander Bogaerts struck the decisive blow, knocking in a run with a double in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie. Michael Chavis also hit another homer — his eighth of the season — while Mookie Betts collected three hits and scored three runs to raise his OPS to .899.

The Astros last lost on May 7 against the Royals, the second game of a three-game series. The Astros won the final game of that set, then swept the Rangers in a four-game series, the Tigers in three, and won the first two games against the Red Sox. It’s their second 10-game winning streak of the season, as they won 10 striaght between April 5-16, sweeping the Athletics, Yankees, and Mariners before losing the second of two games against the A’s in Oakland.

At 31-16, the Astros are slightly behind the Twins — in progress as of this writing — for the best winning percentage in the majors. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have made up some ground after ending April 13-17. They’re now 24-22, good for third place in the AL East.