As the Red Sox look to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Athletics at Fenway Park on Thursday night, manager Alex Cora has shaken things up a bit with left-hander Sean Manaea getting the start for Oakland.
Of the nine hitters in Boston’s starting lineup for Thursday’s contest, six hit from the right side of the plate and one is a switch-hitter.
Michael Chavis will lead things off for the Sox while getting the start at second, and he will be followed by Alex Verdugo — who will be making his 20th start of the season in center field — and J.D. Martinez — who will be making just his sixth start of the season in left field.
With Martinez starting in the outfield, Xander Bogaerts will get half a day off as he will serve as Boston’s designated hitter while batting cleanup.
Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez, and Hunter Renfroe comprise the 5-6-7 portion of the Red Sox lineup, while Bobby Dalbec and Jonathan Arauz round things out.
Dalbec returns to the lineup and gets the start at first base after sitting out the first two games of this series. The 25-year-old slugger comes into play Thursday sporting a .188/.241/.317 slash line to go along with just two home runs and 11 RBI over 30 games (108 plate appearances).
Arauz, meanwhile, will make his first start of the 2021 campaign in place of Bogaerts at shortstop after being recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Sunday.
The 22-year-old infielder made his season debut and came on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the A’s. He struck out swinging in his lone plate appearances.
Originally selected by Boston in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, the switch-hitting Arauz spent the entirety of the truncated 2020 season with the Red Sox and slashed .250/.325/.319 with one homer and nine RBI over 25 games while playing every infield position besides first base.
“In spring training, he was a little bit erratic defensively,” Cora said of Arauz prior to Thursday’s game. “But he’s a cool customer. I saw him play a lot last year. He put some good swings in spring training. And we’re tying to keep our shortstop off his feet today. He’s been playing a lot. He DH’s today. You got Monday off, so you got to take advantage of situations like this.
“We got J.D. [Martinez] playing left field,” added Cora. “He doesn’t care — he loves playing the outfield. So it’s a good opportunity against a lefty to try to take care of some players and be ready for not only for today, because I think we have a good lineup going, but also for the upcoming days.”
During their current three-game losing streak, the Red Sox lineup has been limited to a total of four runs on 13 hits over their last 27 offensive innings.
They will look to buck that trend and salvage this series against the A’s with right-hander Garrett Richards getting the start for Boston opposite Manaea.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Jonathan Arauz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)