Red Sox Lineup: Carl Crawford Bats Second Against Indians

Another game, another new lineup for Terry Francona and the Red Sox. The main change, as before, centers around Carl Crawford. Having collected his first two hits of the season Sunday against the Rangers, and with the Cleveland Indians throwing right-handed pitchers throughout the series, Crawford has been moved up to the second spot in the lineup, pushing Dustin Pedroia to third.

1.      Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

2.      Carl Crawford, LF

3.      Dustin Pedroia, 2B

4.      Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

5.      Kevin Youkilis, 3B

6.      David Ortiz, DH

7.      J.D. Drew, RF

8.      Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

9.      Marco Scutaro, SS

It's a bit surprising, though not unwelcome, that Terry Francona has been willing to shuffle Crawford around in the lineup. While he seems to have acquired a reputation as a middle-of-the-order hitter, his numbers don't really carry that out on a team as offensively stacked as this one, and he's had nearly 49% of his at bats in the two-hole. Second is actually one of the most appropriate places for Crawford--it's how the rest of the lineup is affected that causes problems.

It's unclear what, exactly, Francona's objection is to putting his best hitters in the traditional 3-4 slots. While Dustin Pedroia is one of the best players on the team, he doesn't really come close to Gonzalez or Youkilis offensively, or even Carl Crawford and David Ortiz against righties. Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury, whose role as the leadoff hitter has been called into question time after time in recent years, has put himself beyond reproach for the moment with his strong start.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia continues to get starts behind the plate despite his lack of a hit. While Sox fans might expect him to sit in favor of Jason Varitek when Josh Beckett is on the mound, it seems like Francona wants him to get that first base knock out of the way as soon as possible.

The Indians will counter with a rather less potent offense:

1.      Michael Brantley, CF

2.      Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

3.      Shin-Soo Choo, RF

4.      Carlos Santana, C

5.      Travis Hafner, DH

6.      Orlando Cabrera, 2B

7.      Austin Kearns, LF

8.      Matt LaPorta, 1B

9.      Jack Hannahan, 3B

The Red Sox are in desperate need of a strong start from Josh Beckett, and against this lineup, it would not be too surprising if they got one. The only man on the team who has given the former ace trouble in recent years is Shin-Soo Choo. While Travis Hafner once destroyed him, it's been years since he's done any real damage. The only other major threat is Carlos Santana, who hasn't seen Beckett before, but is killing the ball to start the 2011 season.

As for Josh Tomlin, well, suffice it to say that he's going to have his hands full.

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