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J.D. Martinez in left field for Game 3, Andrew Benintendi benched

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When an American League team with an established DH plays in a National League park it always raises the question of whether to bench the DH or whether to force him into the defensive alignment. The Red Sox have known that was coming with J.D. Martinez for some time, and there has been significant speculation regarding where he’ll play in Los Angeles.

Alex Cora ended the speculation a little while ago when he released his lineup: J.D. Martinez will play in left field and Andrew Benintendi will ride pine.

The lineup:

1. Mookie Betts (R) RF
2. Xander Bogaerts (R) SS
3. Mitch Moreland (L) 1B
4. J.D. Martinez (R) LF
5. Brock Holt (L) 2B
6. Rafael Devers (L) 3B
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. (L) CF
8. Christian Vazquez (R) C
9. Rick Porcello (R)

Some had speculated that Mookie Betts might play second base, which was his original position, allowing Martinez to play in right, but it’s been a while since he’s played there and the Sox have decided to keep the presumptive MVP in his usual position and go with Brock Holt at the keystone.

Another thing they could’ve done is put Martinez in right, slid Betts to center and kept Benintendi in the game, but I like this move better. Martinez is going to be a defensive liability wherever he plays. He’ll be less of one in left than right and, if you keep Jackie Bradley Jr. in the game at least you have your best defensive outfielder next to Martinez to at least try to cover for him. Not that Martinez is a complete tourist out there, as he played 32 games in left field during the season.

As for the Dodgers, there are no surprises here. Against the righty Rick Porcello they, finally, put their big bats in the starting lineup, with Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson getting the call:

1. Joc Pederson (L) LF
2. Justin Turner (R) 3B
3. Max Muncy (L) 1B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
6. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
9. Walker Buehler (R) P P

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]