Plenty has changed since John Farrell last wrote Dustin Pedroia’s name into the Boston Red Sox lineup.
The Red Sox second baseman missed just 10 days with knee soreness, but he returns Tuesday night to a Boston team that sits in first place and is riding a six-game win streak as it opens a brief two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. He’ll be eased back into the lineup as the designated hitter.
When Pedroia went down with the knee injury, the Red Sox sat a half-game behind the New York Yankees and were just eight games over .500. Their red-hot play over the last week and a half allowed them to leapfrog the Yankees and build a three-game lead in the American League East.
With Pedroia handling the DH duties, Eduardo Nunez can remain in the lineup, as he’ll lead off and play second base. Acquired from the San Francisco Giants a few days before the trade deadline, Nunez is 16-for-40 since joining the club, and Boston is 7-2 in those nine games. With Nunez atop the batting order and Pedroia returning to the two-hole, Mookie Betts will hit cleanup behind Andrew Benintendi, who will hit third.
Chris Sale will start on the mound for the Red Sox, looking to avenge the worst start of his Red Sox career. Sale allowed seven runs in his last start against Cleveland.
Here are the lineups for both clubs in Tuesday’s series opener.
Red Sox (63-49)
Eduardo Nunez, 2B
Dustin Pedroia, DH
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Mookie Betts, RF
Rafael Devers, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Sandy Leon, C
Jackie Bradley, CF
Chris Sale, LHP (13-4, 2.70 ERA)
Peter Bourjos, CF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Evan Longoria, DH
Logan Morrison, 1B
Steven Souza, Jr., RF
Wilson Ramos, C
Adeiny Hechehvaria, SS
Daniel Robertson, 2B
Mallex Smith, LF
Austin Pruitt, RHP (6-2, 5.65 ERA)
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Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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