BOSTON — It’s safe to say that this weekend’s Chicago Cubs-Boston Red Sox series is living up to the hype.
After tight-roping out a dramatic 5-4 win in Friday’s series opener, Boston dropped the middle game of the set to Chicago on Saturday after the Cubs rallied for a 7-4 victory.
Now the Cubs and Red Sox are ready to settle the score in front of a national audience on Sunday night at Fenway Park.
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“It’s two really good teams playing the game properly and hard, and now it’s 1-1,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s (a) go for the rubber match (Sunday).”
Chicago (13-10) hopes to get some better pitching after Jake Arrieta allowed four first-inning runs and five total on Friday and ex-Red Sox John Lackey gave up four on Saturday.
Maddon turns to right-hander Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 4.50 ERA) on Sunday. Hendricks has never faced the Red Sox or pitched at Fenway, but is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA in nine interleague starts.
“I love those old ballparks,” Hendricks, who pitched at Dartmouth College in nearby Hanover, N.H., told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s going to be very cool to pitch there.”
Hendricks is coming off a solid outing last Tuesday in Pittsburgh, holding the Pirates scoreless with six strikeouts over six innings en route to a 1-0 Cubs victory.
It was the first quality start of the year for Hendricks.
Only two current Red Sox batters have ever faced Hendricks, with Hanley Ramirez going 1-for-3 with an RBI and Josh Rutledge going hitless in four at-bats.
Boston (12-11) counters with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 3.12 ERA), who like Hendricks has never faced Sunday’s opponent. Rodriguez is 1-2 with a 5.82 ERA in four interleague outings.
Rodriguez turned in his best start of the season last Sunday in Baltimore, allowing just one hit over six innings with seven strikeouts in an eventual 6-2 Boston victory.
“I think with each outing he’s gained a little momentum,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “And when I say that, there’s been times where he’s shown flashes of dominance, and that’s getting longer with each outing he’s had.
However, the young hurler permitted a career worst-tying five walks against the Baltimore Orioles. Rodriguez has walked a team-worst 12 batters through four games this season.
“The walk totals are more than we would have thought,” Farrell said. “They’ve been probably a little bit too frequent for a guy who’s typically been a good strike thrower.”
Ben Zobrist is the only Cubs batter who has seen Rodriguez in regular-season game action before Sunday, going 0-for-3.
Fans with tickets to Sunday’s game will also be treated to a special photo-op.
Both “curse-breaking” World Series trophies will be on display — Boston’s from 2004 and Chicago’s from last year — in the Gate K/B concourse after the gates open at 6:35 p.m. ET.
Fans will be allowed to take pictures with both trophies. The teams are asking for a $20 suggested donation to benefit the Red Sox Foundation and Cubs Charities.