Triple-A lineups, outfielders at third base, and catchers pitching

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Boston’s blowout loss to Toronto last night featured all sorts of amusing stuff, as long as you’re not a Red Sox fan. And really they shouldn’t even mind too much, after clinching a playoff spot the previous night.
For starters, the third-highest-scoring team in the league trotted out a lineup that surrounded cleanup hitter David Ortiz with the motley crew of Joey Gathright, Josh Reddick, Casey Kotchman, Rocco Baldelli, George Kottaras, Alex Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, and Chris Woodward.
To the surprise of no one they were shut out by Roy Halladay, who allowed just three hits, all of them singles, and needed only 100 pitches to record 27 outs.
Fourth-string catcher Dusty Brown set a team record by becoming the third position player to pitch for the Red Sox this season when he took the mound in the ninth inning and turned an 11-0 deficit into a 12-0 deficit. As manager Terry Francona said afterward: “Any time we get to Dusty Brown pitching, it’s a tough night.” On the other hand, Brown was the closer at Yavapai Community College in 2001.
Last but not least Baldelli started in right field and then moved to third base in the seventh inning. Not only had he never appeared at third base in six seasons as a major leaguer, Baldelli revealed afterward that he’d played the position for a grand total of one game since high school. Sadly, nothing was hit his way in three innings at the hot corner. “I thought I needed a cup, so I got one from Mike [Lowell], and Youk gave me his glove, and that was it,” said Baldelli, who smartly chose not to follow in Adrian Beltre’s footsteps.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.