Adrian Gonzalez, who exited Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays with a calf injury after homering, is starting at first base and batting third as the Rays and Red Sox begin a crucial four-game series at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
The Red Sox lead the Rays by four games in the wild card race.
With Gonzalez and David Ortiz in there, there are no surprises in either team’s lineups. Ortiz missed Boston’s previous two games due to back spasms.
The Rays are using the same nine they did Wednesday with the exception of having Desmond Jennings back in the leadoff spot. He was given last night off.
Tonight’s game is one of two in the series in which the Rays would seem to have a big advantage when it comes to pitching matchups. They’ll throw Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 2.96 ERA), while the Red Sox will counter with Kyle Weiland (0-1, 6.75 ERA). It’s a rematch of last Saturday’s game in St. Pete, which the Rays won 6-5 in 11 innings.
Here are the rest of the matchups:
Friday: James Shields (15-10, 2.70 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (12-5, 2.49 ERA)
Saturday: Jeff Niemann (10-7, 3.97 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (15-7, 3.07 ERA)
Sunday: David Price (12-12, 3.34 ERA) vs. Tim Wakefield (7-6, 5.13 ERA)
As long as the Red Sox can win two out of four, they’ll be in great position with both teams having 10 games remaining. If the Rays can win three, then the last week and a half could get very interesting.
We noted yesterday that in the rush to name the Cubs the saviors of Chicago sports fans everywhere, the 2005 Chicago White Sox — and the 1959 White Sox for that matter — are being completely overlooked as World Series champs and pennant winners, respectively.
That continued last night, as first ESPN and then the Washington Post erased the Chisox out of existence in the name of pushing their Cubs-driven narrative. I mean, get a load of this graphic:
Was there no one at the world’s largest sports network — not an anchor, production assistant, researcher, intern or even a dang janitor who could tell them what was wrong with this? Guess not!
Meanwhile, the normally reliable Barry Svrluga gives the Cubs the 2004 Red Sox treatment as a group of players who will never have to buy a drink in their city again. His story is better about keeping it franchise-centric as opposed to making it a city-wide thing, but whoever is responsible for the tweet promoting the story makes a Cubs World Series a unique thing for not just Cubs fans, but Chicago as a whole:
The White Sox play in the AL Central so I assume their fans have no love at all for the Cleveland Indians. But I can’t help but think a good number of them are rooting for the Tribe simply to push back against the complete whitewashing of the White Sox.
This is happening, people.
Earlier we heard Joe Maddon being non-committal about Kyle Schwarber joining the Cubs for the World Series. Now it seems pretty clear that the Cubs are committal indeed: Jon Morosi reports that Schwarber is en route to Cleveland from Arizona on a private jet and that he’s expected to DH in Game 1 tomorrow night.
Schwarber hasn’t played in a game that counted since April 7. His potent bat is could be a windfall for a Cubs team that didn’t have a game-changing option at DH in the American League park.
Schwarber lost the whole season due to a knee injury, but he hit .246/.355/.487 with 16 homers and 43 RBI in 69 games as a rookie in 2015. His big coming out party was in the playoffs, however, when he hit three homers in five postseason games while going 7-for-13 with two walks in five games.