J.D. Martinez returns to Red Sox lineup for Game 2 of ALDS vs. Rays; Kyle Schwarber starting over Bobby Dalbec at first base

After being held out of action for the opening game of their American League Division Series against the Rays, J.D. Martinez is back in the Red Sox lineup for Game 2 at Tropicana Field on Friday night.

Martinez will be starting at designated hitter and batting sixth for the Sox as they look to even up this best-of-five series with the Rays at one game apiece.

The 34-year-old slugger was previously left off Boston’s Wild Card Game roster after twisting his left ankle while tripping over the second-base bag in the process of jogging out to right field in the fifth inning of last Sunday’s regular season finale against the Nationals.

Later diagnosed with a left ankle sprain, Martinez — after missing the Wild Card Game — was added to the Sox’ initial 26-man roster for the ALDS, though he did not start and was not able to play in Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

Despite not playing in Game 1, however, Martinez will be back in the thick of things Friday night. In batting sixth in Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s lineup, the four-time All-Star will be hitting below the No. 5 spot in the order for the first time all year.

With Martinez slotted in to serve as Boston’s designated hitter, Kyle Schwarber will start at first base, which means Bobby Dalbec is the odd man out of the lineup.

Schwarber, batting leadoff, will be followed by center fielder Enrique Hernandez, third baseman Rafael Devers, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Alex Verdugo will start alongside Hernandez in center field, while Martinez, right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo make up the bottom half of the Sox lineup.

Vazquez will be catching ace left-hander Chris Sale to begin things on Friday. Sale last started at Tropicana Field on September 1 — an outing in which he allowed two runs (both earned) on six hits, two walks, two hit batsmen, and three strikeouts over six innings of work.

Opposite Sale will be rookie right-hander Shane Baz for the Rays. The 22-year-old made his big-league debut on Sept. 20 and posted a 2.03 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 18:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three starts (13 1/3 innings pitched) to close out the regular season.

As the Red Sox go for a series-evening win over the Rays before heading back to Boston, first pitch from Tropicana Field Friday is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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