The Boston Red Sox are out to start their West Coast schedule on a positive note Thursday night, as they send Franklin Morales to the mound against the Seattle Mariners and perennial Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez. First pitch is at 10:10 p.m. EST, with broadcasts by NESN and WEEI.
It's becoming more and more clear that Bobby Valentine intends to use a platoon to fill the cleanup spot for the time being. With Adrian Gonzalez only just now really beginning to find his form again, Kevin Youkilis gone to Chicago, and Will Middlebrooks an inexperienced rookie, Valentine has been turning to Cody Ross against left-handed pitchers, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia against righties.
Tonight, with the right-handed Hernandez on the mound, it will be Saltalamacchia's turn to take the big at bats after the top three. So far, that's worked out just fine for the up-and-coming catcher, who has responded with a 1.021 OPS in his limited appearances in the fourth spot.
Whether or not Saltalamacchia--or anyone else in the Red Sox lineup, for that matter--can produce against the likes of Felix Hernandez tonight is another matter entirely.
Boston Red Sox (40-35)
Seattle Mariners (32-45)