The Boston Red Sox (49-62) hit the road to take on the St. Louis Cardinals (59-51) in a re-match of last year's World Series. While Boston has struggled through a drastic drop-off since these teams last met, the Cardinals are right where you expect them to be – in the thick of a dog fight for the NL Central. They currently trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 1 game and have a half game advantage over the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second Wild Card spot.
The Cardinals may not even recognize this team as the same one that beat them last October. Of the 25 players that appeared on the World Series roster, only 13 remain with the team. They won't see any of the starting pitchers they faced in the World Series, since Clay Buchholz is the only one left and he just pitched Sunday night.
- Rubby De La Rosa (3-4, 3.64 ERA) will get the start for Boston. It will be his first time starting against an NL team since he made 10 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011 and his first start ever against the Cardinals. De La Rosa has lost his last two starts, both against the Toronto Blue Jays, surrendering 9 earned runs over 10 innings between the two. He is also 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA on the road this season.
- Heading to a National League park means there will be no DH in this series. Expect David Ortiz to get a rest in at least one of these games, but tonight he'll be at 1B, giving Mike Napoli a night off.
- Brock Holt is in CF tonight, with Will Middlebrooks at 3B, giving the slumping Jackie Bradley, Jr. a night off. They have to keep Holt in the lineup as often as possible and Middlebrooks already sat out the last two games, so Bradley was the odd man out.
- Despite the announcement that Shane Victorino will miss the rest of the season and Allen Craig is out for the foreseeable future, the Red Sox are sticking with Yoenis Cespedes in LF. With his strong arm he's almost wasted in Fenway's shallow left field, which led many to assume he'd eventually move to right after he had time to learn the tricky dimensions in the right field corner. Now that the team is on the road and Cespedes remains in left, that theory may no longer be correct.
- Where is Mookie Betts going to get his at-bats from? He's started only twice in the past 7 games, while appearing as a late game replacement in two others. Betts only has 8 at-bats over that span, collecting 3 hits. If he can't get regular playing time, perhaps he's better off down in Pawtucket where he can get a chance to develop.
- Lance Lynn (11-8, 2.98 ERA) takes the mound for St. Louis. He took the loss in Game 4 of the World Series after being pulled in the 6th inning with two runners on. Jonny Gomes then hit a game winning 3-run homer off Seth Maness, allowing those inherited runners to score. Lynn also appeared out of the bullpen in the deciding Game 6, allowing three base runners without recording an out.
- John Lackey is not scheduled to start in this series, so the Red Sox should avoid having to face the pitcher they recently traded to St. Louis. They will get to see plenty of A.J. Pierzynski though. The veteran catcher spent a disappointing first few months in Boston before he was designated for assignment in July. The Cardinals picked him up to help fill the void left by the injury to Yadier Molina, who may be out until September. Pierzynski is batting .273/.304/.318 in 6 games since joining the Cardinals. He's in the lineup tonight, batting 6th.
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Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, David Ortiz, MLB, Mookie Betts, Rubby De La Rosa, Will Middlebrooks, Yoenis Cespedes
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