For the first time this season we’ll get to see how the Boston Red Sox adjust their lineup without Mookie Betts at the top of the order.
Who will be at the top of the lineup when the Boston Red Sox take on the Colorado Rockies in the finale of their three game series Thursday night? If you guessed Mookie Betts, you’d be wrong.
Granted it would have been a good guess. Betts has been the lead-off hitter for the Red Sox to begin every game this season, as well as in the team’s last 88 games dating back to last year. Not tonight though. Betts is getting a rare day off, which not only means the team will need a temporary replacement in right field, they’ll also need to shuffle the lineup to find a new lead-off hitter.
Tonight that honor will go to perhaps the hottest hitter in the game right now, Jackie Bradley. That’s right, the guy who has seen more than half of his plate appearances in the No. 9 spot in the order has gradually earned the right to move up all the way to the top spot.
The move up in the order is well deserved. Bradley enters the game riding a 29-game hit streak, tied for the fourth longest in franchise history. There has been nothing cheap about how he has gone about extending this streak either. Bradley is 44-for-106 (.415) with 9 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs during this span. When the streak started he was hitting a meager .222, but now leads the league with a .350 average!
Here’s what the Red Sox lineup looks like tonight:
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As you can see, Chris Young will be taking over in right field for Betts tonight, batting 7th. Also noteworthy is that Xander Bogaerts, who had a minor thumb issue last night, and Dustin Pedroia, who was removed for precautionary reasons related to his hamstring, are both back in the lineup.
Every player needs a day off once in a while, as the days of iron men like Cal Ripken, Jr. are long gone. Even if Betts was long overdue for a breather, it’s odd that the Red Sox are taking him out of the lineup for a game at Fenway, where he has been outstanding this season. Boston heads to Toronto for the weekend after this game, so giving Betts a day off against the Blue Jays may have made more sense given his struggles on the road.
Bradley has never started a game in the majors in the lead-off spot, so this is uncharted territory for the 26-year old. Hitting at the top of the order gives him the potential for the most possible opportunities to get to the plate to attempt to extend his hitting streak to 30 games, which would tie Nomar Garciaparra and Tris Speaker for the second longest streak in franchise history.
Of course if Bradley’s streak ends tonight, the superstitious among us will surely blame manager John Farrell for moving him up in the lineup. No pressure.