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Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Can John Lackey pitch every game right now? Would be nice, right? Of course, it would be even nicer if Jon Lester starts pitching like Jon Lester of old, or better yet, the current John Lackey.

Lester takes the hill in the second game of this series against the San Diego Padres (40-44), as the Boston Red Sox (51-34) look to take the series. Boston has won six of seven coming into tonight and Lester aims to win his third in a row. He is 8-4 with a 4.61 ERA, but is just 2-4 with a 6.99 ERA and opponents are batting .316 in his last eight starts. Lester went seven innings and allowed four runs against Toronto in his last start, earning the win. He also picked up a win against Detroit, but allowed five runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings. He tries to return to dominant form tonight, and a light-hitting NL West team could be just what the doctor ordered.

Here is the Red Sox lineup tonight (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Nava, LF
6. Carp, 1B
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Snyder, 3B
9. Iglesias, SS

Lester, P

Edison Volquez makes the start for San Diego. He is 6-6 with a 5.50 ERA and struggles early in games. Beyond the first couple of innings, he settles in and is tough to hit, so the Sox need to jump on him early and often.

Iggy AL Rookie of the Month
Jose Iglesias was named AL Rookie of the Month for June. The do-it-all infielder has overtaken a starting spot on the infield, shifting mostly between third base and shortstop. He batted. 395 with 11 multi-hit games and 17 runs scored in June. That kind of production earns you playing time and Iggy has continued to impress with his bat after not having hardly any pop in Triple-A Pawtucket. Iglesias went 2-for-3 with an RBI Tuesday night to raise his batting average to .415. Boston could use more of the same going forward.

Good news on Buchholz
Although the Red Sox said they don’t expect Clay Buchholz to be back before the All-Star Break (All-Star Game July 16), John Farrell said he is seeing improvement in Buchholz’s throwing program. Buchholz will need two rehab starts before joining the club, but he has been progressing through his throwing program and that’s a good sign.

Napoli power outage
Mike Napoli wasn’t penciled into tonight’s lineup and the cause is unknown. Speculation is he may have an undisclosed injury. Regardless, the facts are that he has gone over a month without a home run (last home run June 1) and has just one extra-base hit (a double) outside of that home run since June began. He could just be struggling in the power department, as he has 54 RBIs, just two shy of his total from 2012 and is hitting .259, which is spot on his career average (eight seasons). Hopefully, Napoli is just working out the kinks and not feeling the effects of his recent hip injury.

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

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As always, give me a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead

Ben Whitehead 7/03/2013 05:00:00 PM Edit
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