The missing men of Wednesday are back in the lineup Thursday night as the Red Sox kick off a four-game set against the Royals.
|KANSAS CITY ROYALS||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Alcides Escobar - SS||Mookie Betts - CF|
|Ben Zobrist - 2B||Pablo Sandoval - 3B|
|Lorenzo Cain - CF||Xander Bogaerts - SS|
|Eric Hosmer - 1B||David Ortiz - DH|
|Kendrys Morales - DH||Hanley Ramirez - LF|
|Mike Moustakas - 3B||Travis Shaw - 1B|
|Salvador Perez - C||Ryan Hanigan - C|
|Alex Rios - RF||Jackie Bradley - RF|
|Paulo Orlando - LF||Josh Rutledge - 2B|
|Danny Duffy - LHP||Wade Miley - LHP|
It's another interesting lineup from Torey Lovullo, with Pablo Sandoval batting second for just the fourth time in his career. If it seems like they can't find a place for Sandoval in the lineup, it's actually not for a lack of production. At least of late. While his season as a whole still leaves a lot to be desired, he's actually been pretty decent since the middle of June. And if July on the whole was a weak month, the past four weeks he's actually been good. We're talking .279/.353/.525 here.
I don't know if those are #2 or #5 or #3 numbers in this lineup--things are, simply put, weird right now with Travis Shaw and Jackie Bradley Jr. doing their things. You could even argue that Bradley should be batting leadoff or cleanup right now. It's only yesterday that he reached as high as #7, and frankly I'm almost surprised they've dared moving him around at all, for fear it might shatter the illusion, if that's what all this is.
On the bright side, it's not my job to figure that out, and for Lovullo, much of the pressure is off at least when it comes to optimization. Sure, the whole Hanley Ramirez thing is a headache and a half, but Rusney Castillo missing out after throwing the ball into the stands with two outs? It's not an incident worth getting too worked up about at this point in the season, but you could certainly call it a teachable moment.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
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