After being missing for a week, Mike Napoli is back at first and in the Red Sox lineup Friday night as they start what actually seems like an important series again against New York in Boston.
|NEW YORK YANKEES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Jacoby Ellsbury - CF||Mookie Betts - CF|
|Brett Gardner - LF||Brock Holt - 2B|
|Alex Rodriguez - DH||Xander Bogaerts - SS|
|Mark Teixeira - 1B||David Ortiz - DH|
|Brian McCann - C||Hanley Ramirez - LF|
|Garrett Jones - RF||Pablo Sandoval - 3B|
|Didi Gregorius - SS||Mike Napoli - 1B|
|Stephen Drew - 2B||Alejandro De Aza - RF|
|Cole Figueroa - 3B||Sandy Leon - C|
|Michael Pineda - RHP||Clay Buchholz - RHP|
It was never clear that we had seen the last of Mike Napoli in the lineup, but if you had to choose a game for him to return, this would be pretty far down the list. With the Red Sox actually making a push to return to contention, this series against New York is pretty much the linchpin. A series win here--much less a sweep--and they're actually in range. A series loss, on the other hand, would be quite the hit to the good feelings and momentum that seem to be accruing in Fenway these days.
So not only is this game important, it's also the toughest pitching matchup for Napoli. Clay Buchholz takes the mound tonight against Michael Pineda, It's hard to imagine the righty who's currently sitting on a 105:13 K:BB is just what the doctor ordered. With runs likely to be at a premium, it seems like the Red Sox should be pushing for every offensive margin they can.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN, WEEI, and the MLB Network.
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