BOSTON – A.J. Pierzynski is not in the starting lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Tigers at Fenway Park. Despite his numbers against Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer – batting .333, going 11-for-7, with a double, a triple, a home run, seven RBI, and four strikeouts for a .324 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage – the left-handed hitting Pierzynski will be on the bench for the start of the game.
Manager John Farrell wanted to maintain the pairing of left-hander Jon Lester with catcher David Ross.
Ross has caught six of Lester’s eight starts this season. In those games the lefty is 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA, giving up 30 hits and eight walks with 51 strikeouts over 44 innings.
Pierzynski has caught the other two, with Lester going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA, allowing 17 hits and five walks with 15 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. Much of that can be attributed to his April 22 outing against the Yankees, when Lester lasted just 4 2/3 innings, giving up eight runs, three earned on a season-high 11 hits and four walks with seven strikeouts.
That was the last time Lester and Pierzynski have been paired up.
“This is a difficult decision,” manager John Farrell said. “Particularly with the performance [Pierzynski has] had against Scherzer. But also look at the way David Ross and Jon Lester have paired up and that has been consistent, it’s been effective. And if this game goes the way you project between two very good starters, it could be a low-run game. So trying to preserve that battery between the two.”
Farrell said Lester did not offer input into the decision.
“This wasn’t’ a request on his part by any means,” Farrell said. “This is just seeing how over the past year-plus how David and Jon have paired up. The way they’ve implemented and executed a game plan has been very consistent. And like I said, looking to preserve that.”
This will be the first time this season Ross will be in the starting lineup on back-to-back games, and just the third time in the regular season in two years with the Sox. He missed 65 games last season with two concussions. He started back-to-back games last season on May 1 and 2 at Toronto and Sept. 3 and 4 against the Tigers. He also started on consecutive days last season on April 20 and 21 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Royals.
Ross last started consecutive games when he was behind the plate for Games 4, 5, and 6 of the World Series.