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Red Sox Vs. Royals Lineups: Kevin Youkilis Returns Against Bruce Chen

The Red Sox will once again have the services of Kevin Youkilis at third base Wednesday night against the Royals and their lefty starter Bruce Chen.

There was cause for concern after Kevin Youkilis left Monday's debacle with a hamstring injury; Carl Crawford had only just returned from missing a month with a similar injury. But it's clear now that the Sox need not fear for their big righty bat. While he was originally scheduled to sit, Youkilis reassured Terry Francona that he was good to go, and now he's in the lineup, batting fourth.

Yamaico Navarro, originally scheduled to play third with Darnell McDonald taking over left for Carl Crawford has now takenn over McDonald's spot as he moves to right field, pushing Josh Reddick to the bench for tonight's game. It's a curious decision given that Reddick has hit lefties whenever given the chance this year, but this might be about getting some playing time for Navarro against southpaws as the deadline approaches to bring up both his numbers and his appeal.

Boston Red Sox (63-38)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  7. Marco Scutaro, SS
  8. Darnell McDonald, RF
  9. Yamaico Navarro, LF
It's not the picture of perfection, but the lineup that put up 13 on Tuesday wasn't either. The Royals will use a similar group as well as they try and put a stop to John Lackey's run of good starts.

Kansas City Royals (43-60)
  1. Alex Gordon, LF
  2. Melky Cabrera, CF
  3. Billy Butler, DH
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  7. Brayan Pena, C
  8. Chris Getz, 2B
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS
Pitching Matchup: John Lackey (8-8, 6.28 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (5-3, 3.30 ERA)

Of late, John Lackey has been...good. Even now those words seem wrong so close to one another, but frankly his last three starts--and four of his last five--have been exactly what the Sox expected when they signed him. He's been in-control, deceptive enough to keep opposing batters honest, and aside from a three-run first against Tampa that was entirely Marco Scutaro's fault, has only allowed two earned runs. Of course, the Toronto game that came before this good steak makes it hard to really have any faith, but Lackey has hopefully at least found some confidence in it, if nothing else. On the other hand, the Royals honestly are probably a more powerful lineup than the Orioles and Mariners--possibly even more than the Rays the way they've been going of late.

Bruce Chen is an odd case, if only because it was hard to imagine he'd have a career in the major leagues after his dismal years in Baltimore and Texas. Still, here he is, going into his second year of effective pitching for the Royals. He's not going to dazzle anyone, necessarily, with his wide assortment of average pitches. But if he can get the Sox to guess instead of react, then he can be effective against them. He'll have to avoid letting guys like Ellsbury and Gonzalez on, however, because Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis could really punish him for it.