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Red Sox Vs. Phillies Lineups: Kevin Youkilis Out With Sore Ankle

The Red Sox' desperate hunt for runs will not get any easier Thursday, as Kevin Youkilis will miss the final game against Philadelphia with a sore ankle.

The bad news has prompted a good deal of shuffling from Terry Francona, who will send an unusual and not terribly impressive lineup against the Phillies' Cole Hamels.

Boston Red Sox (45-34)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Darnell McDonald, LF
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  5. Jason Varitek, C
  6. Josh Reddick, RF
  7. Drew Sutton, 3B
  8. Marco Scutaro, SS
  9. Jon Lester, P

On the one hand, that's a pretty terrible group to be sending at a pitcher as good as Hamels. On the other hand, somehow last night's bunch scored only one run, and it was John Lackey who did the dirty work. Perhaps Terry Francona has been driven to superstition, and assumes the only way to get results is to not have any expectation of them?

At this point, I can't really blame him.

The Phillies will get right-handed Ben Francisco into their lineup in right field in place of Dominic Brown while Carlos Ruiz will return to his duties behind the plate.

Philadelphia Phillies (51-30)

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Chase Utley, 2B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Shane Victorino, CF
  6. Ben Francisco, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Carlos Ruiz, C
  9. Cole Hamels, P

Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (9-4, 3.66 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (9-4, 2.49 ERA)

The perception of Jon Lester in June seems to be pretty far removed from reality. Thanks to some early-inning struggles, good starts have started off with a bad impression that doesn't really go away when the Sox don't score enough to overcome the deficit. But regardless of when Lester has been hurt, he hasn't been hurt often. A 2.89 ERA and a 26:6 K:BB ratio in his last four appearances should be proof enough of that. With the Phillies having struggled to hit lefties all year, Lester has a good chance to keep his hot streak going.

Of course, he might well need to be perfect given that Cole Hamels has such a questionable lineup to face. Then again, even a typical Red Sox lineup wouldn't be assured success. Simply put, Hamels is one of the best pitchers in the game this year by all measures.The work-in-progress cutter from last year has developed into another top-tier offering from Hamels, and the changeup he made his name with is seemingly better than ever. As a result, he's got no problem getting righties or lefties out.