Carl Crawford Bats Second on Birthday While Franklin Morales Returns to Starting Role for Red Sox


Carl Crawford Bats Second on Birthday While Franklin Morales Returns to Starting Role for Red SoxThe Red Sox haven't had much to smile about over the last four games, but at least two Boston players should be happy coming into Sunday's contest: Carl Crawford and Franklin Morales.

Crawford is celebrating his 31st birthday on Sunday, and the perennial milestone has been good for his batting statistics. He's 10-for-30 with three home runs over the last seven games on his birthday. Combine that with his recent resurgence (hits in seven of his last eight games, including three home runs), and Crawford may be ready to break out of the 2011-like malaise he has dealt with at points this year.

Morales, meanwhile, is back in the starting rotation, his preferred spot. He's certainly proven himself in that role this year, coming up big in spot starts. He brings a 2.88 ERA and 47 strikeouts (in 13 outings since June 3) into Sunday's game, with a majors-best .189 batting average against during that span. He also ranks seventh in the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (9.47) for the year.

The Red Sox will need all the help they can get to break out of their most recent funk, and they have the added bonus of facing Nick Blackburn (4-6, 7.43 ERA) in the series finale. He was roughed up for five earned runs over three innings the last time he faced the Red Sox, on April 24.

Ryan Kalish will get another start in right field, with Cody Ross in the designated hitter spot as David Ortiz continues to sit out. Mike Aviles, who is 6-for-11 against Blackburn, starts at shortstop.

Red Sox (53-55)

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carl Crawford LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Cody Ross DH
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Ryan Kalish RF
Mike Aviles SS

Franklin Morales P

Twins (47-60)

Ben Revere CF
Darin Mastroianni RF
Joe Mauer C
Josh Willingham LF
Justin Morneau 1B
Ryan Doumit DH
Brian Dozier SS
Alexi Casilla 2B
Jamey Carroll 3B

Nick Blackburn P

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