Game 43: Red Sox at Twins - Saturday night special

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Back-to-back last at-bat wins have helped get the Boston Red Sox on a roll. The Sox (25-17) look to extend this mini streak to four games tonight, as they play game two of their series against the Minnesota Twins (18-20). It will be Ryan Dempster (2-4, 3.75 ERA) pitching for the Red Sox against the Twins’ Scott Diamond (3-3. 4.08 ERA).

The Boston lineup is once again slightly different, with manager John Farrell giving a couple more players the night off (first pitch - 7:10 pm EDT):

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

Dempster, P

Stephen Drew gets a scheduled day off with Pedro Ciriaco playing at shortstop, and Ryan Lavarnway will be Dempster’s battery mate in place of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Lavarnway went 0-for-3 in his first game this season, a 5-3 loss to the Rays Wednesday.

Victorino’s (not) back
Shane Victorino is out for the second straight night since leaving with a recurring back issue he suffered late in Thursday’s game at Tampa Bay. Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes have been platooning in left field all season and Nava goes to right when Victorino has been out. The Flyin’ Hawaiian has taken some swings in the cage and is expected to play tomorrow.

Better late than never
On Thursday, the Red Sox waited until they were down to their final strike in the ninth inning to win against the Rays, as Will Middlebrooks laced a bases-clearing double to plate three runs against Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney in a 4-3 win. Last night, the envelope was pushed a bit further with the Red Sox tying the game in the seventh and then winning it in the tenth on Gomes’ sacrifice fly. Coupled with a 9-2 win Wednesday and the Sox have themselves a winning streak, and a bit of confidence that a close game is not out of reach.

Hating the long ball
Dempster has been about what the Sox expected when they signed the veteran. He’s given Boston plenty of innings (48 over eight starts) and has a respectable 3.75 ERA. However, in those eight starts he’s given up nine home runs and walked 19 batters. The nine home runs is two shy of the combined amount (11) the other four current starters have allowed. Target Field is a big park, but has some hitter-friendly spots. Dempster needs to avoid giving up a big bash tonight as he tries to pull closer to evening his record.

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