It’s a little lefty heavy for sure, but a revamped Red Sox lineup featuring Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez seems poised to take over the major league lead in runs scored in 2011 after finishing second to the Yankees last season.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Carl Crawford
3. Dustin Pedroia
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Kevin Youkilis
6. David Ortiz
7. J.D. Drew
8. Marco Scutaro
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Bench: Mike Cameron, Jed Lowrie, Jason Varitek, Darnell McDonald
At least, that’s an early guess. Crawford would be the better leadoff choice, but he much prefers to hit second and given that the Red Sox want him comfortable, they’ll probably leave him there. Against lefties, Scutaro can lead off, with Cameron replacing either Ellsbury or Drew and Varitek filling for Salty.
The clincher now would be if the Red Sox went and signed Scott Downs or Brian Fuentes. As left-handed as the BoSox are going to be, either would be an especially ideal weapon for the Yankees or Rays to have late in games.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.