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Red Sox Vs. Royals Linueps: Curious Collection Of Bats Lined Up Against Danny Duffy

Another game against a lefty, another odd bunch of right-handed bats thrown together with whoever the Sox have left standing.

Sunday, that group will include Darnell McDonald batting second, Jed Lowrie hitting fifth, Ryan Lavarnway right behind him, and Josh Reddick in the ninth spot. Jason Varitek will also get the start in the day game following the night game. It will not include Jacoby Ellsbury, who remains out following his unfortunate encounter with a baseball Friday.

Of course, while the Sox only put up four runs Saturday, it would be unfair to say they fell back into their slump after their strong game Friday night. While many runners were left on base, that they even had those runners in the first place is evidence enough that the bat came to play. Ryan Lavarnway has had a strong couple of games after starting out 0-for-4, and while Adrian Gonzalez went hitless, he came very close indeed to launching a pair of bombs. Maybe he'll get those few extra feet today.

Boston Red Sox (76-49)

  1. Marco Scutaro, SS
  2. Darnell McDonald, CF
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  5. Jed Lowrie, 3B
  6. Ryan Lavarnway, DH
  7. Carl Crawford, LF
  8. Jason Varitek, C
  9. Josh Reddick, RF

The Royals will return to the same lineup they had in the opening game of the series, with Giavotella at second and Perez behind the plate. Perhaps they'll have better luck against left-handed Lester than they did against Josh Beckett. 

Kansas City Royals (52-75)

  1. Alex Gordon, LF
  2. Melky Cabrera, CF
  3. Billy Butler, DH
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  6. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
  7. Salvador Perez, C
  8. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS

Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (12-6, 3.22 ERA) vs. Danny Duffy (3-7, 5.77 ERA)

Jon Lester, of course, has a rather long and impressive history against the Kansas City Royals--one which might have gotten a bit longer had his last game against them not come right after Lester returned from the disabled list. Held to just five innings in the outing, Lester nonetheless turned in a strong start, which he followed up with eight good innings in Chicago.

Had those been the only two starts before his last outing against Tampa, then there'd be no cause for concern. However, Lester did run into some serious control problems and was hurt for it against Minnesota and New York in between. A strong start tonight would certainly make it clear that Lester has put that bit of trouble behind him, and given that Andrew Miller was able to so shut them down despite his tendency for walks and, more generally, mediocrity, there seems a good chance that Lester will do just that.

Even if he can't, though, Danny Duffy is not the sort of starter that inspires much fear in the Red Sox. Or anyone else for that matter. A high ERA is largely substantiated by unimpressive peripherals, which are likely the result of Danny Duffy throwing a good few strikes because, when he goes outside the zone, he's rarely able to fool anyone. His lack of deception outside the zone doesn't change much when he goes inside, either, leading to a lot of contact, and a lot of runs when he's up against powerful teams like the Red Sox, who chased him in under four innings the last time they squared off.