It was a good start to the nine-game road trip for the Boston Red Sox (24-17), who took two of three at Tampa Bay and open up a three-game weekend series in Minnesota tonight. The Sox lost three of four at home to the Twins (18-19) last week and will look to avoid losing the season series by sweeping this series at Target Field. Red Sox Nation has the advantage on the mound, for sure, as Clay Buchholz attempts to win his seventh game and remain unbeaten on the year (6-0, 1.69 ERA).
Here’s Boston’s lineup for the Friday night affair (first pitch – 8:10 pm EDT):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Nava, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Middlebrooks, 3B
6. Drew, SS
7. Gomes, LF
8. Carp, 1B
9. Saltalamacchia, C
The Twins will send Vance Worley (1-4, 7.15 ERA) to the mound in hopes that he can limit Boston’s struggling offense. Worley went five innings and allowed three runs on nine hits in his last outing against the Red Sox, a no-decision in a 6-5 Boston win in extra innings.
Change it up
Shane Victorino (back issues) and Mike Napoli have the night off, providing some obvious tweaks to the Sox lineup. Daniel Nava takes over the No. 2 spot in the order and will play right field in place of Victorino. Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew have moved up in the lineup with Napoli out of the fifth spot. And Mike Carp mans first base for Napoli, who is 10 of his last 52 with 17 strikeouts and just three RBIs.
Buchholz has shown ace form this season and his numbers are proof. What’s most impressive is his ability to keep his composure and not allow a big inning to happen. As long as he continues that, Boston will keep rewarding him with Ws when he’s on the mound.
Eyes on the East
While the Red Sox are making their rounds to the AL Central (Minnesota this weekend and Chicago early next week), the rest of the AL East will be beating up on each other in four very crucial early series. It’s important for the Red Sox to regain their form while their division foes play each other, perhaps to get back on top of the standings (one game out of first) and put some separation between them. This weekend, Tampa Bay plays at Baltimore and Toronto visits the Bronx to take on the Yankees. The teams switch opponents on Monday, as New York heads south to Camden Yards and plays the Orioles, and Tampa and Toronto go north of the border for a clash in Canada.
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