Red Sox Vs. Rays Lineups: Kevin Youkilis In Boston, Out Of Lineup Against Tampa Bay

The Red Sox are in Tampa Bay Friday night to face off against the Rays in a series that could effectively seal Boston's postseason spot. Unfortunately, they're there without their starting shortstop, as Kevin Youkilis has returned to Boston to receive an MRI on a nagging hip injury.

The news of Youkilis' health concern is simply the last thing the Red Sox needed. With Josh Beckett and Erik Bedard both absent from the rotation for the time being, and the team stuck in a 3-7 slide over the past week-and-a-half, Boston needed all hands on-board for this series against their closest wild card competition. Instead, they're down one of their biggest bats and, as a result, will need to move a hard-slumping Dustin Pedroia into the all-important cleanup spot when runs are likely to be needed in rather high quantities.

Boston Red Sox (85-58)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Marco Scutaro, SS
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Carl Crawford, LF
  7. Jed Lowrie, 3B
  8. Josh Reddick, RF
  9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

They'll have to outscore a Rays lineup that looks all-the-more impressive ever since the addition of Desmond Jennings.

Tampa Bay Rays (78-64)

  1. Desmond Jennings, LF
  2. B.J. Upton, CF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Johnny Damon, DH
  6. Matt Joyce, RF
  7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  8. John Jaso, C
  9. Reid Brignac, SS

Pitching Matchup: John Lackey (12-11, 6.11 ERA) vs. Wade Davis (9-8, 4.50)

Until his last game, John Lackey had been acceptable for a long streak of time. Six earned runs in five innings, however, does not cut the bill, even against Texas. Ever since his strong July, Lackey has been sliding back in the direction of his early-season mediocrity. If he's ever going to pull that back, now has to be the time.

Davis has actually had the reverse of that trend up until his bad start against Toronto to end August. His July was a particularly bad period, while the ensuing months have seen him return a relatively middling form. Davis isn't terribly likely to shut Boston's offense out, but against Lackey he likely doesn't have to. In a battle of two hurlers that don't exactly set the world on fire, the Rays seem to have the advantage.

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