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Red Sox at Rays lineup: A few words about tonight’s starting catcher, Blake Swihart aka SWI

It’s Players’ Weekend in St. Pete.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox (90-39) look to win their 91st game of the year when the face the Rays (67-61) behind righty Hector Velázquez (7-1, 2.47 ERA), aka “CABEZON,” as Player’s Weekend begins in St. Pete (7:10 p.m. NESN). Read Matt’s series preview here.

About tonight’s game: With the homestand finished, the Sox go from perfect Fenway nights to climate-controlled evenings in a hollowed-out storage locker in Florida. Sorry if this offends (other storage lockers). Of course, the team that plays in there, the Rays, is consistently good despite itself, and currently sit at a respectable six games over .500 despite trading everything good they’ve ever had. Is this too mean? Probably. The franchise isn’t my issue. The stadium’s the issue. I want the franchise to trade away their good players.

They’ll start Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.47 ERA) today but it is, of course, all a ruse, because in the second inning expect to see someone else. I don’t actually hate the strategy, it’s just a waste from a preview perspective. Mitch Moreland is out of the lineup after yesterday’s knee bang-up and Mookie Betts is DHing. The rest looks normal, except for the hot-hitting catcher, to whom we’ll get.

About yesterday’s game: David Price was damn near perfect and the Sox scored six runs in the fifth inning on their way to a 7-0 win. Read my recap here.

Forecast: More fights about Blake Swihart, tonight’s starting catcher, because there is a growing constituency of people who have chosen to live or die on a hill the Sox aren’t prepared to approach this season — that of Swihart becoming the full-ish-time starting catcher, right now... and not, say, next year. That he hasn’t, despite improving hitting stats, is proof to them that they have unlocked a secret the Red Sox have somehow missed in otherwise creating a billion-dollar death machine. That the team says exactly why they stick with Sandy León (and Christian Vazquez) as the starter(s) — in short, they are good-to-excellent and reliable catchers on a team with surplus offense — makes no difference to them, nor does the almost impossible record the Sox have amassed with them behind the plate. Much like the idea firing John Farrell last year, my issue is less with the surface-level analysis of the numbers of Swihart and León than the deeper question of the why Red Sox would upset this particular team’s dynamics (for what it’s worth, the Farrell thing made more sense, because at least the dynamics were the issue, but the record was still good) and why the mere idea of something that can’t totally be quantified, like León’s all-around competence, is laughable. We’re way beyond 2004, where the answers were staring everyone in the face and people were too dumb to look. If you want to go back, watch one of the Bourne movies. They’re great! Until then, please, chill. 90-39 doesn’t answer everything, but it answers this one. Swihart’s in there tonight. If he keeps hitting, the “problem” will take care of itself, because it’s a problem as deep as a light a scratch on the arm. Calling attention to it says more about you than anything you say about it, which is, of course, the whole point.

Today’s reading: The marriage of Price and Boston finally works. Evan Drellich called it 6 weeks ago.

A good tweet:


Game 130 at Rays

Red Sox Rays
Red Sox Rays
1 Mookie Betts, DH Joey Wendle, 2B
2 Andrew Benintendi, LF Matt Duffy, 3B
3 Steve Pearce, 1B Jake Bauers, 1B
4 J.D. Martinez, RF Ji-Man Choi, DH
5 Xander Bogaerts, SS Willy Adames, SS
6 Ian Kinsler, 2B Kevin Kiermaier, CF
7 Eduaro Núñez, 3B Carlos Gómez, RF
8 Blake Swihart, C Brandon Lowe, LF
9 Jackie Bradley Jr., CF Michael Pérez, C
SP Hector Velázquez, RHP Diego Castillo, RHP