Mike Napoli Out of Lineup as Red Sox Face Yankees Ace Hiroki Kuroda on Dustin Pedroia’s Birthday

Shane Victorino, Jacoby EllsburyMark Reynolds, Alfonso Soriano and the rest of the Yankees got their hacks in Friday night, but if Red Sox fans had to pick any pitcher to come to the mound to halt Boston’s three-game losing streak (aside from a healthy Clay Buchholz), it would be John Lackey.

Despite having not recorded a win since July 12 and not faring all that well in his last outing against the Bronx Bombers, Lackey has been stellar overall this season and can safely be labeled the Sox’ stopper at this point. At Fenway Park, he is 4-2 with a 2.15 earned run average this season, which should give the Red Sox added comfort even as New York sends up its unquestioned ace, Hiroki Kuroda (11-7, 2.33).

Lackey needs to be crisp on Saturday, though he got a late boost by Shane Victorino‘s late addition to the lineup. Mike Carp, a left-handed hitter, and switch-hitting Daniel Nava were originally announced to man the corner outfield spots against the righty Kuroda, but about an hour later, a new lineup card was issued with Victorino back in his usual two-hole. Carp instead will play first base in place of Mike Napoli, who is dealing with plantar fasciitis.

Dustin Pedroia bats behind Victorino and celebrates his 30th birthday, looking to homer on his birthday for the second straight year.

Pedroia has three career homers on his birthday, the same number as Ted Williams and Troy O’Leary. Nomar Garciaparra, who was notorious for knocking the cover off the baseball on his birthday, is the Red Sox’ all-time leader in the obscure statistic of birthday homers, with four.

The rest of Saturday’s lineups appear below.

Red Sox (72-52)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victornio, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Carp, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B

John Lackey, P

Yankees (63-58)

Brett Gardner, CF
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Curtis Granderson, DH
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Chris Stewart, C

Hiroki Kurdo, P

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