Source: Red Sox eyeing pitchers

Updated: July 24, 2012, 8:41 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- In the wake of the continued struggles of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, the Boston Red Sox have directed their attention toward acquiring a starting pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The Red Sox most recently have expressed interest in Miami Marlins pitchers Josh Johnson, according to a league source.

The Red Sox also were interested in Anibal Sanchez, the source said, but Sanchez was traded to the Detroit Tigers on Monday evening. The Marlins sent Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante to Detroit in exchange for top pitching prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.

Johnson pitched six shutout innings Monday night against the Atlanta Braves, allowing just one hit, striking out nine and walking none, but left with what the Marlins called skin irritation on his right middle finger. A contingent of Red Sox scouts was in attendance.

Johnson came into Monday night's game with a 5-7 record and 4.35 ERA but had a stretch of 10 straight starts in May and June during which he gave up three earned runs or fewer.

Johnson has a long track record of success with the Marlins (3.16 ERA over seven-plus seasons) but also comes with a hefty price tag. He is making $13.75 million this season and is under contract for that same amount in 2013.

Marlins assistant GM Dan Jennings was scouting the Red Sox last week, which was when the quickly dismissed Carl Crawford trade rumors surfaced.

The Red Sox also were eying Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza. But Boston's interest has decreased since the right-hander was removed from his start on Saturday with an arm strain, because the Red Sox don't want to take a gamble if Garza is injured, the source said.

Lester has a career-worst 5.46 ERA this season and is coming off his worst career outing Sunday (11 earned runs in four innings), while Beckett has a 4.53 ERA. More significantly, the Red Sox are a combined 13-23 in games started by Lester and Beckett, thought before the season to be the cornerstones of the rotation.

The Red Sox have scored a 480 runs this season (second in the majors) but own a 48-49 record and are in last place in the AL East, 9½ games behind the first-place New York Yankees. Boston's starting pitchers have posted a 4.89 ERA this season, the third-worst mark in the AL.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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