For the first time since its inception in 2012, the Red Sox are hosting the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
It took until the final day of the regular season on Sunday, but the Sox finished ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card standings despite both clubs having identical records (92-70) on account of winning the season series against their division rivals, 10-9.
Because of this, the 2021 installment of the American League Wild Card Game will be taking place in Boston as opposed to New York, meaning the Red Sox will have home-field advantage.
With ace right-hander Gerrit Cole starting for the Yankees, the left-handed hitting Kyle Schwarber will serve as the Sox manager Alex Cora’s leadoff leadoff hitter Tuesday night. He will be doing so while serving as the club’s designated hitter, as J.D. Martinez was left off Boston’s Wild Card roster due to a left ankle sprain.
Enrique Hernandez will start in center field and bat behind Schwarber, marking the first time all year the 30-year-old has started a game as the Sox’ No. 2 hitter after primarily batting leadoff throughout the regular season.
On account of Martinez’s absence from the roster, it will be third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and left fielder Alex Verdugo comprising the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 spots.
Hunter Renfroe rounds out the outfield and the middle third of Boston’s lineup, as the strong-armed 29-year-old gets the start in right field while batting sixth behind Verdugo and ahead of Kevin Plawecki.
Plawecki will be catching right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to begin things on Tuesday. Over the course of the regular season, Eovaldi posted a 3.28 ERA and .644 OPS against in 17 starts (96 innings pitched) with Plawecki behind the plate as opposed to a 4.77 ERA and .766 OPS against in 13 starts (66 innings pitched) with Christian Vazquez doing the same.
After Plawecki, Bobby Dalbec will be getting the start at first base and batting eighth, while Christian Arroyo will be getting the start at second base and batting ninth.
Of these nine hitters, Bogaerts, Devers, Hernandez, Schwarber, Shaw, and Verdugo have all homered off Cole at least one time in either the regular or postseason.
Hernandez specifically is 5-for-11 (.455) in his career against Cole, as he took the Yankees ace deep back in June.
Additionally, the Red Sox will have the likes of Jonathan Arauz, Jarren Duran, Travis Shaw, and Connor Wong available off the bench if needed.
First pitch from Fenway Park Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.
(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)