Terry Francona is back at Fenway Park as a manager. The biggest difference between now and 2004-2011? He’s sporting a Cleveland Indians cap and pullover instead of the familiar Boston “B” logo. Francona brings his Indians (26-19) to Boston for the first time since taking over as skipper. The Red Sox (28-19) come home for Memorial Day weekend after spending the past nine days on the road (6-3 record). Boston swept the Indians in Cleveland in April by a combined score of 19-8. The fanfare will surround Francona seeing some of his boys again, but the four-game series between two of the best teams in the American League should be quite the show on the field as well. The Indians lead the AL Central and the Sox are a half-back of the Yankees in the East, and could tie with a win tonight (Yankees are off today).
Ryan Dempster (2-4, 4.27 ERA) opens on the mound for the Sox. He’s been all that Boston wanted him to be on the mound, but has been unlucky in the win/loss department. He’ll go for win No. 3 tonight.
Here’s the Sox lineup for tonight (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT, weather pending):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Nava, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Saltalamacchia, C
7. Middlebrooks, 3B
8. Drew, SS
9. Carp, LF
Zach McAllister takes the mound for the Indians. He’s 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA this season, but one of his losses came at the hands of the Red Sox. He pitched the third game of a Sox sweep in Cleveland, giving up three runs in five innings. He struck out seven in that game, but gave up a solo home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a 6-3 Boston win.
Dempster couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his last start, going 4.2 innings and allowing five earned runs against the Twins. The Sox won 12-5 but Dempster wasn’t eligible for the win. Look for the veteran to have a better performance tonight.
Salty, Carp-e, Vicori-Not
Noteworthy lineup items: Saltalamacchia has been moved up to the sixth spot. Mike Carp will roam left field and bat ninth, as Shane Victorino is out of the lineup for the third straight game with tightness in his hamstring. All reports on the Flyin’ Hawaiian are that the injury isn’t going to send him to the DL. Salty is hitting .265 and has the aforementioned homer off McAllister. Carp is hitting .302 in 22 games and 43 ABs this season.
Big Papi coming up, well, big
It’s been an impressive one month of games for David Ortiz. There is no slowing down in sight, as the clean-up hitter is batting .351 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 31 RBIs in 28 games. His bat is needed in a lineup that continues to be inconsistent and gets set to face some of the top pitching in the game over the next few series.
Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.
Like what you read? See more from Ben here.
As always, give me a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead