The Red Sox will look to celebrate manager Alex Cora’s 46th birthday by taking a two-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series on Monday night.
After splitting the first two games of this best-of-seven series in Houston over the weekend, the Sox have momentarily taken homefield advantage away from the Astros as the next three games of this ALCS will be played at Fenway Park.
In celebrating his birthday on Monday, Cora is rolling out a nearly-identical starting lineup to the one he used in Saturday’s Game 2 victory.
With another right-hander in Jose Urquidy getting the start for Houston in Game 3, Kyle Schwarber will once again be leading off and starting at first base for Boston on Monday. He will be followed by the red-hot Enrique Hernandez in center field.
Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo make up the 3-4-5 portion of the Sox’ batting order, meaning J.D. Martinez will bat sixth ahead of Hunter Renfroe, Christian Vazquez, and Christian Arroyo.
Vazquez is the only one of these nine players who did not start on Saturday since it was Kevin Plawecki who caught Nathan Eovaldi. This time around, however, the 31-year-old backstop will be catching Game 3 starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who was named by Cora as Boston’s Game 3 starter on Sunday, has posted a 5.40 ERA and 1.97 FIP to go along with seven strikeouts to two walks through his first two starts (6 2/3 innings pitched) of the postseason.
The left-hander is a week removed from his last outing against the Rays in which he allowed two earned runs on three hits, zero walks, and six strikeouts over five-plus solid innings of work in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on October 11.
Earlier this season, Rodriguez faced off against the Astros twice within an 11-day span from May 31 to June 10 — with the first start coming in Houston and the second in Boston.
In those two outings, the Venezuelan southpaw surrendered a total of 12 runs — all of which were earned — on 13 hits, five walks, and nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 11.57.
Urquidy, on the other hand, held the Red Sox to just one run on three hits, one walk, and nine punchouts over six innings of work in his lone start against them this year when he opposed Rodriguez at Minute Maid Park back in late May.
That being said, first pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.
(Picture of Christian Vazquez and Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)