After dour days off for the All-Star break, the Red Sox officially kick off the second half of their 2019 campaign in the first of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fenway Park on Friday night.
In a rematch of the 2018 World Series, Sox manager Alex Cora, fresh off leading the American League to their seventh straight Midsummer Classic victory this past Tuesday, is sticking to the same lineup that resulted in his club taking five of their last six contests heading into the break.
That’s right, Rafael Devers remains in the two-hole, while Andrew Benintendi does the same by batting fifth for Boston to begin the weekend against the best team in the National League.
Since moving up to the second spot in the Red Sox’ lineup on June 25th, Devers is slashing .432/.479/.841 with 10 extra base hits, four of which were homers, and 14 RBI over 10 games and 48 plate appearances.
Benintendi, meanwhile, has played in just five games over that same stretch and went hitless in the first three before breaking out for a four-hit night against the Detroit Tigers on July 6th.
The now 25-year-old outfielder followed that up with a 1-for-4 performance last Sunday, driving in one of his team’s six runs to close out the first half.
On July 4th, Cora implied that Benintendi needs be more “hitter-ish” when at the plate. That much is evident in how much his offensive production has dropped off to begin his third full season in the majors.
Compare Benintendi’s first 76 games in 2018 to his first 76 in 2019. In 2018, the former first round pick posted a .912 OPS to go along with 13 homers and 49 RBI through June 21st of that year.
This season, Benintendi has posted just a .784 OPS with only seven homers and 38 RBI through the midpoint.
If the Red Sox truly want to succeed in 2019, they need to get the most out of their best hitters. Benintendi is one of those hitters.
First pitch against the Dodgers Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Back to baseball.