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Red Sox vs. Cubs lineup: Jake Arrieta starts in Theo’s triumphant return, because things can always get worse

LOL nothing matters.

Chicago Cubs Victory Celebration
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Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Everyone’s frustrated with the 11-9 Red Sox’s offense, and those frustrations might continue through tonight as the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs (12-8) have 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta on this hill to begin a three-game series this evening at Fenway Park (7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network).

Every Cubs/Red Sox game is wrought with symbolism, tonight’s moreso than most. Cubs President Theo Epstein returns to his hometown historically triumphant twice over, having been recently named the world’s greatest leader by Fortune. Meanwhile, the Red Sox cannot score a single run, having tallied 31 fewer than the Cubs this season while, impressively, allowing 9 fewer. That’s why the Sox still are still above .500, and why something has to break soon.

Could it be tonight? Despite Arrieta’s track record, the answer is yes. The Sox have gotten incredibly unlucky recently insofar they’ve faced a row of good pitchers, and all those pitchers have been on their best days, which has distorted their nonetheless very real offensive futility. If we grant that there’s something tangible to Xander Bogaerts’ claim that the Sox are “not hitting” because of the absence of David Ortiz (and it’s not necessarily to grant this, but I do), it’s perhaps indicative of Big Papi’s ability to regularly destroy ace and journeyman alike.

More likely, Bogaerts was talking about how the team feels their way through a drought like this without Ortiz, which is something many of them have never had to do at the major league level. It’s hard to lose your most productive co-worker at any job, especially when he’s also your best and coolest co-worker. Suddenly the bad days aren’t so fun any more. To wit: This stretch of offensive futility is not very fun.

It is, however, temporary. All it takes is one game for us to forget most of it ever happened. I still love Theo, but it would warm my frozen heart to pound the Cubs into submission tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, and restore some much-needed balance to the world. Here’s who will give it a try tonight, and who will try to stop it:

Game 22, April 28, 2017 vs. Cubs

Lineup Spot Cubs Red Sox
Lineup Spot Cubs Red Sox
1 Kyle Schwarber, DH Xander Bogaerts, SS
2 Kris Bryant, 3B Andrew Benintendi, LF
3 Anthony Rizzo, 1B Mookie Betts, RF
4 Ben Zobrist, LF Hanley Ramirez, DH
5 Addison Russell, SS Mitch Moreland, 1B
6 Willson Contreras, C Dustin Pedroia, 2B
7 Jason Heyward, RF Jackie Bradley, CF
8 Javier Baez, 2B Christian Vazquez, C
9 Albert Almora, CF Marco Hernandez, 2B
SP Jake Arrieta Drew Pomeranz