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Red Sox vs Rays ALCS Game 5 lineups: It’s Chris Sale(’s) season

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It’s the playoffs, and it’s only one game, but this afternoon’s Sale start will almost necessarily define the legendary lefty’s 2021.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox
Destroy them.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox look to rebound from a Laz Díaz-aided Game 4 ninth-inning meltdown loss behind Chris Sale, who can erase a wobbly quarter season’s worth of innings with a strong start in Game 5 this afternoon against the Houston Astros (5:08 p.m., FS1).

Well, that was a bummer. For as good as Alex Cora has occasionally been this year and this postseason, his bullpen choices at the end of games has been... lacking. This isn’t just about the consistent bad results—those happen—but that the choices are bad before the results reveal themselves. Martín Pérez’s blowup was foreordained by Twitter because Pérez was a bad choice in that situation, not necessarily because Pérez got blown up. The reverse is true: He got blown up because he was a bad choice. It doesn’t always work out that way, but this is about three big times in a row in these playoffs alone Cora has reaped what he’s sown and, well:

That’s about right heading into tonight, where a Sale who didn’t get through 3 innings last time out needs to be Chris F’ing Sale tonight for the Sox to grab a lead heading back to Texas. This is a very “Lose Yourself” moment, for lack of a better term. You’ve only got one shot! Do not miss your chance to blow! (Also, do not blow.)

The Astros will counter with Framber Valdez, who has been knocked around by White and Red Sox this postseason after a strong 2021. He’ll face a Sox lineup that is shuffled around for the first time in a while, with literally everyone batting in a new spot, albeit no farther than two spots from the previous one—the tiers have not changed, just been shaken up a little against the lefty Valdez. The only swap for the Astros is in center field, where José Siri, defensive specialist, starts again. And that is that. Go Sox.

ALCS Game 5 vs. Astros

Lineup spot Astros Red Sox
Lineup spot Astros Red Sox
1 José Altuve, 2B Kiké Hernández, CF
2 Michael Brantley, LF Kyle Schwarber, 1B
3 Alex Bregman, 3B Xander Bogaerts, SS
4 Yordan Álvarez, DH Rafael Devers, 3B
5 Carlos Correa, SS J.D. Martinez, DH
6 Kyle Tucker, RF Hunter Renfroe, RF
7 Yuli Gurriel, 1B Alex Verdugo, LF
8 José Siri, CF Christian Arroyo, 2B
9 Martín Maldonado, C Christan Vázquez, C
SP Framber Valdez, LHP Chris Sale, LHP