A historically successful month of June has the Boston Red Sox taking some momentum into July.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs also aim to build on a solid finish to the month when they welcome the Red Sox back to Wrigley Field for the first time since 2012 on Friday.
Boston lost on the final twodays of May to sit 23-27, then went 20-6 in June to turn things around and contend for a postseason spot.
During June, the Red Sox posted a plus-44 run differential and hit 24 homers. Their starters had a 2.91 ERA while recording the franchise's highest winning percentage (.769) for a month (at least 25 games) since also going 20-6 in July 2011.
Boston avoided a sweep at Toronto by winning 6-5 in 10 innings on Wednesday and now opens July with the franchise's fourth-ever trip to Wrigley.
Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo homered on Wednesday and is batting .410 (16-for-39) with two home runs and 10 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak. He owns a.312 average in 50 career interleague games.
"I'm feeling locked in right now," Verdugo told NBC Sports Boston. "I like where my head's at, my swing, what I'm doing with the ball. I'm just going to keep that approach."
Scheduled Red Sox starter Rich Hill (4-4. 4.09 ERA), a 42-year-old ex-Cub, played a significant part during his team's June success by going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts. The left-hander overcame five hits and four walks to yield a run over six innings of an 8-3 victory at Cleveland on Sunday.
Hill, 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA in eight 2022 road starts, spent his first four major league seasons with the Cubs (2005-08). He last faced them in September 2020 with the Minnesota Twins, when he allowed a run and three hits over seven innings of a 1-0 loss.
Chicago star Willson Contreras is 4-for-8 with a double against Hill. Meanwhile, Patrick Wisdom, who homered twice and had six RBIs during a 15-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, is 2-for-2 with a home run vs. Hill.
Though 16 games under .500, the Cubs have won two straight games, and they have captured back-to-back series for the first time since taking three in a row from May 9-18.
"(Just want to) take that momentum into the next game and the next series," Wisdom told Marquee Sports Network.
While Contreras is 11-for-24 in his past six games, teammate Nico Hoerner continues to shine while batting .531 (17-for-32) over his past eight.
"He's just in one of those spaces right now that's a good place to be as a hitter," Cubs manager David Ross told Marquee Sports Network.
With Chicago's rotation hampered by injuries, Adrian Sampson (0-0, 1.69 ERA) will make his second consecutive start. He allowed two runs, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over five innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday -- in his third 2022 appearance.
The right-hander has allowed 10 runs and 15 hits, including six homers, over 9 2/3 innings in two career starts against the Red Sox.
However, Sampson hasn't faced them since 2019, when he was with the Texas Rangers. Ranked among the majors' top hitters, Boston stars Rafael Devers (.328) and Xander Bogaerts (.326) are a combined 4-for-8 with a homer apiece vs. Sampson.
--Field Level Media