Red Sox Lineup: Xander Bogaerts returns at shortstop

BOSTON, MA - JULY 15: Xander Bogaerts
BOSTON, MA - JULY 15: Xander Bogaerts /

The Boston Red Sox will have shortstop Xander Bogaerts back in the lineup for Thursday afternoon’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

When lineups were revealed for this afternoon’s game it was a welcome sight to see Xander Bogaerts listed as a starter for the Boston Red Sox.

Bogaerts will bat sixth, reclaiming his familiar spot at shortstop. He’s missed the last two games with a muscle contusion and small sprain of a joint in his right hand. The injury was the result of being hit on the hand by a pitch during the first inning on July 6 in Tampa Bay. Bogaerts was removed from that game and sat out the following day before returning for the final two games leading into the All-Star break.

While the injury didn’t appear to be much of a concern after X-rays came back negative, it was clearly effecting Bogaerts at the plate. He has gone 4-for-26 (.154) at the plate since being hit on the hand.

Now he’s back in the lineup, although it remains to be seen if he’s back to being the hitter he was earlier this season. July’s dismal performance can mostly be chalked up to his swing being hindered by a sore hand, yet his slump started long before he was drilled in Tampa. Bogaerts is coming off a rather mediocre month, posting a .277 batting average in June. He was in the thick of the batting title race, hitting .337 on May 31. Since then his average has dwindled to his current .296 mark through this extended slump.

Elsewhere in the lineup we find that Andrew Benintendi has the day off, as manager John Farrell continues to insist upon benching the rookie against southpaws in favor of Chris Young. Sure, the Red Sox signed Young last year for his reputation as a lefty masher. Unfortunately he hasn’t lived up to that this year, hitting only .237 with a .660 OPS against left-handed pitching. Not that Benintendi has been any better against lefties, but sticking a 23-year old future star in a platoon role seems shortsighted.

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Young is only 2-for-9 in his career against Blue Jays starter Francisco Liriano. Benching Benny is bad enough. Plugging Young into the No. 2 hole may be even more baffling.

Hanley Ramirez will grab a glove and play first base for the fourth time this season. With Mitch Moreland in a post-break slump (2-for-21), the Red Sox are looking to divert back to the original plan of sitting him against lefties and putting Ramirez at first to give someone else a chance to fill the designated hitter spot.

This time it’s Dustin Pedroia getting a half-day of rest, while Brock Holt fills in at second base. Pedroia has been one of the team’s hottest hitters lately and has torched Liriano to the tune of a .412 average and 1.006 OPS in his career. Boston can’t take his bat out of the lineup, but after a pair of extra-innings games in the past week the 33-year old could use some extra time off his feet. So no, putting him in the DH spot is not a reaction to Pedroia committing his first error of the season last night.

Boston needs a victory this afternoon to claim a winning record on their first homestand coming out of the break. They hit the road this weekend for six games on their last west coast trip of the season.

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The Red Sox have scored five runs in each of the last two games against Toronto. Facing a starter with an ERA north of 6.00 we can expect to see some crooked numbers put up, even with a lineup missing a couple of regulars.