The Boston Red Sox (32-22) will try to earn a split in their four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies (26-27) tonight, as they have lost two out of the first three. The Sox tried to make a ninth-inning comeback Wednesday, but they fell one run short, as Jonathan Papelbon got his second save in as many nights. Tonight, Franklin Morales gets the nod for the Red Sox in a spot start. Morales began the season on the DL with back issues and a pectoral injury. Last season, Morales split time between the rotation and the bullpen. He threw 76.1 innings with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 76 and walking 30. The lefty held opponents to a .224 batting average.
Morales has made a total of five appearances between Greenville (A), Pawtucket (AAA) and Portland (AA). He is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 17.0 innings pitched and has struck out 13 and walked seven.
Here is the Sox lineup for their final game with the Phillies (first pitch – 7:05 pm EDT):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Nava, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, 1B
5. Carp, LF
6. Drew, SS
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Iglesias, 3B
9. Morales, P
Rookie Jonathan Pettibone starts on the mound for the Phillies. The righty has been impressive thus far, posting a 3-0 record with a 3.21 ERA in seven starts. He’s struck out 27 and allowed 45 hits and 12 walks in 42.0 innings.
Big Papi takes over first base for the first time this season. This was to be expected as manager John Farrell needed to get one of his best bats in the lineup, even during a National League road series. Mike Napoli sits tonight, but all should be back to normal this weekend when the Sox head for the Bronx to take on the Yankees. Ortiz is hitting .333 with a .395 OBP, eight home runs, 34 RBIs and 11 doubles in 35 games. He just missed crushing two home runs the past two nights when facing former Boston closer Papelbon. One went foul while the other he got underneath and popped up to right.
All season, the Red Sox have gone on numerous streaks of wins and losses. Fortunately, there have been more Ws than Ls to this point. Just since May 7, the Sox streaks have gone like this: lost 6 of 7, won 5, lost 3 of 4, won 4, lost 2. Boston is on the verge of losing three straight. Luckily, the Red Sox are still on top of the AL East by a game and can only go into the weekend series against the Yankees tied at worst, possibly up two games with a chance to put more separation between them.
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