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Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Watch out, Minneapolis. A sweep warning has been posted for the Target Field area. The Boston Red Sox (26-17) go for the series sweep against the Minnesota Twins (18-21) this afternoon. After winning in extra innings on Friday, the Sox pounded out 12 runs on 13 hits in a 12-5 win Saturday. Consider today the rubber game of the season series, as it is knotted up at 3-3 and today is the last time the two clubs face each other in the regular season. John Lackey (1-4, 4.05 ERA) has been on the wrong side of two costly errors that ultimately led to Boston losing in his last two starts. He, and the Sox, hope for a clean outing today as he takes the ball for the series finale.

For the first time all season, Jacoby Ellsbury gets the day off. Shane Victorino returns and replaces Ellsbury in center and at leadoff. Here’s the full lineup (first pitch – 2:10 pm EDT):

1. Victorino, CF
2. Gomes, LF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Nava, RF
7. Middlebrooks, 3B
8. Saltalamacchia, C
9. Ciriaco, SS

Lackey, P

The Sox will face left-handed pitcher Pedro Hernandez of the Twins. Hernandez is 2-0 with a 5.79 ERA in five starts this season. He’s given up five home runs, walked nine and only struck out 15 in 28 innings.

No Drew for second day
Stephen Drew is out of the lineup for the second straight game. There hasn’t been any word on why he’s out yet, so keep an eye or an ear out for that. Pedro Ciriaco is at shortstop again today. Of course, Ciriaco played great in Saturday night’s win, so perhaps it’s just a vote of confidence from manager John Farrell to send him back out there.

Big night for Big Papi
David Ortiz would regularly be receiving a day off today to give him some rest and let him stay off his feet a bit. Farrell opted instead to keep the hot hitting Ortiz, who has played in five straight games, in the lineup. Last night, Ortiz blasted two home runs to center, went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in six runs (more than the Twins scored all game, 5). It marked the 38th time Ortiz has had a multi-homer game, and it put him at the top of the Red Sox career list in that category, surpassing the greatest hitter of all-time, Ted Williams. He does a lot of damage against the Twins, his former team. Big Papi is now hitting .332 with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs in 53 career games against Minnesota. One more day of that today would be perfectly fine with Red Sox Nation.

Taking the “E” out of Lackey
As previously mentioned, two errors have led to the demise of Lackey and the Sox in his previous two outings. Against the Twins on May 9, Lackey threw a would-be inning-ending double play ball into center field that allowed two runs to score and continued the inning. By the time the inning was over, it had suddenly gone from a 2-0 lead for Boston to a 5-2 lead for the Twins. In his next start against the Rays on May 14, a normally easy popup to the right side of the infield was lost in the catwalks of Tropicana Field and fell to the turf safely. Mike Napoli called for the catch, lost it in the air and watched it fall and two runs scored. That gave Tampa a 5-3 lead, which it held on to for the final score. We’ll see if Lackey can escape unscathed today and earn just his second win of the season.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

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Ben Whitehead 5/19/2013 12:00:00 PM Edit
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