As he alluded to before heading to Houston on Thursday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has not made any drastic changes to his starting lineup for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros on Friday night.
Besides swapping Christian Vazquez for Kevin Plawecki, the most significant difference between Cora’s lineup for Game 5 and lineup for Game 6 would be Hunter Renfroe dropping down in the batting order.
Renfroe, who has primarily batted fifth, sixth, or seventh throughout the postseason for Boston, will be hitting out of the eight-hole ahead of Plawecki on Friday.
After posting a .741 OPS in 23 plate appearances between the Wild Card and division series rounds, the 29-year-old right fielder has collected just one hit (a double) over five games and 18 trips to the plate so far in this ALCS.
During the regular season, Renfroe hit eighth on 15 separate occasions — 13 of which were starts — for the Sox and slashed an impressive .327/.358/.551 to go along with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI, and nine runs scored across 53 plate appearances.
By moving Renfroe down to the eight-hole, designated hitter J.D. Martinez will be batting fifth for the third time in this best-of-seven series. He will be followed by left fielder Alex Verdugo, second baseman Christian Arroyo, and Plawecki.
Plawecki, of course, will be catching Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, as he has done for all three of the right-hander’s starts in these playoffs, including Game 2 against Houston at Minute Maid Park this past Saturday.
As was the case then, Eovaldi will be opposed by fellow righty Luis Garcia come Friday night. Garcia, a rookie, lasted just a little more than an inning in Game 2 due to a right knee strain but has since been cleared to return to the mound on normal rest.
The Red Sox will be looking to be stave off elimination on Friday and force a Game 7 against the Astros on Saturday, as Houston currently leads this series three-games-to-two after taking two out of three from Boston at Fenway Park.
With that being said, first pitch for Game 6 from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.
(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)